BSSC has a vibrant, fun and welcoming Masters squad with swimmers aged 18 to 60+. We have a wide range of abilities with fitness swimmers wanting the incentive of a regular, motivating training programme, competitive triathletes and open water swimmers striving to enhance their swim performance and competitive European and World Masters swimmers. The squad is offered seven coached pool sessions each week across two different local pools. From 1st Oct 2022 there will be three different Masters membership price plans based on your chosen attendance hours.
The photos and articles below show the variety of events attended and achievements gained by our Masters squad, from the more social aspects of Swim Serpentine, Marathon Swims and charity galas, to representing Hertfordshire in Intercounty competitions and winning medals and breaking records at National and International competitions.
Article by Jake Lloyd, BSSC Masters Swimmer & Rep, and BSSC Committee member
Six BSSC swimmers, across a variety of age groups, recently travelled to Sheffield for the Short Course Masters National Championships. No one chose to swim the 1500m Free in session 1 so we start the Champs with session 2. The long weekend kicked off with a short race in the 50m Fly, where Lizzie claimed a gold medal and East Region record (45/49 Yrs Age Group: 30.02), Callum won a silver (18/24 Yrs: 25.89) and Jake came 12th (25/29 Yrs: 27.27).
Next, the ever-popular 50m Freestyle; Callum came 21st (24.95), Niamh came 4th narrowly missed out on bronze (18/24 Yrs: 27.29) and Alyson won gold whilst also claiming the title of the first 65-69 Yrs woman in Europe to ever swim under 30 seconds with a mind blowing 29.45. A new East Region, British and European record. Alyson’s swim puts her 15 milliseconds away from the World Record.
100m Backstroke came next with a very strong showing by BSSC. Both Niamh and Lizzie won silvers (1:03.81 & 1:13.83) both breaking East Region records. Alyson also kept her record-breaking streak going with another gold (1:18.70) breaking the East Region, British and European records again.
Last event of Day 1 was the 200m Fly with just me deciding to put myself through the pain. I won the gold medal (2:18.22) and earned the trip to the pizzeria that the “young” Masters visited that evening to replenish our energy.
Day 2. Lots to live up to with some amazing swims the first day, I was certainly feeling the pressure. The first event of the day is the Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay. BSSC hasn’t entered a relay at Masters Nationals for a few years now and we entered the youngest age group of 72+ Yrs. Myself, Callum, Lucy and Niamh swam as hard as we could and to all our surprises, we took home the gold (3:46.37) setting a new East Region record by 12 seconds.
Next up was the 50m Backstroke, with just Alyson racing. She won another gold (37.61) and another East Region record. Followed by the 200m IM and another 2 golds from Niamh (2:24.65) and Lizzie (2:38.88) which was also an East Region Record.
The start of the next session began with another relay, Mixed 4x50m Medley Relay. With the same relay team entered into this race, we didn’t know what to expect after our surprise win at the beginning of the day. We just missed out on a medal, coming 4th by less than a second (1:55.27).
Following on from the relay was the 100m Freestyle with all but Lizzie entered. Competition was fierce for the guys with Callum coming 23rd (56.14) and Jake coming 21st (55.84). A much stronger showing for the ladies; Niamh finishing 8th (1:00.33), just missing the elusive sub-60, Lucy coming 4th (58.35) only 4 milliseconds away from the East Region record and Alyson showing everyone how easy it can be ticked one more gold medal off her list (1:07.07) with another round of East Region, British and European records.
Last session of day 2 was the 50m Breaststroke and the 800m Freestyle. None of the BSSC swimmers had entered the 800, so Alyson was left to break one more East Region record and win silver in the breaststroke (41.08)
The last day of the weekend, we all feel a little beat up and want nothing more than a lie in before the return to work Monday morning. The last relay the young guns entered was first, Mixed 4×50 Free Relay. With a majority of the team being middle distance swimmers and just missing the podium on the Medley relay we were determined to see what we could do to turn this into a Free relay double. Flying through the water, we managed to finish with the bronze medal (1:44.53 East Region record) and turning the table on the team from Kidlington that beat us in the Medley relay.
Straight after the relay was the 200m Freestyle, which was going to be a tough race for Lucy, Niamh and myself after that relay. Niamh and I both finished 7th (2:12.84 & 2:02.52) and Lucy set a new East Region record and won bronze (2:06.06). Alyson, who still needed more silverware to add to her collection won the gold (2:35.13).
By this point, we were all definitely feeling the effects of the hard swimming done over the weekend and showing signs of struggle as we swum. I don’t just say that because I’ve gone from the relay, to the 200 free, to the next event; 100m Fly. I swam a disappointing 1.02.19, finishing 14th while Callum wasn’t too happy with his 58.04, finishing 4th. Both of us felt like our legs were ready to drop off. Lizzie finished 1st (1:08.39) but the 100 fly at the end of the weekend is a killer.
One last session to go. Callum and Alyson swam the 100m IM. Callum finishing 15th (1:05.38) and Alyson stepping up for BSSC and finishing with a bang. Winning her final gold (1:19.69) and one last East Region, British and European record. Lucy, wanting to share the glory of the last moments with Alyson, swam the 400m Freestyle, winning the silver medal (4:32.68) only 2 seconds outside the East Region record.
And with that Masters Nationals was finished. Out of the 286 clubs that were represented, BSSC finished 27th overall and 1st in Hertfordshire. With only 6 swimmers up there this is a tremendous achievement and I would like to give a huge CONGRATULATIONS!!! to all the swimmers that performed some incredible swims. It would be great to see a few more masters come up with us next year and help see how high up the “Best Club” table we can climb.
|Alyson Fordham 65/69 Yrs||7x Gold, 1x Silver Records: 7x ER, 4x BR, 4x EUR|
|Lizzie Bellinger 45/49 Yrs||3x Gold, 1x Silver Records: 3x ER|
|Niamh James 18/24 Yrs||1x Gold, 1x Silver 1x Relay Gold, 1x Relay Bronze Records: 1x ER, 1x Relay ER|
|Callum Davis 18/24 Yrs||1x Silver 1x Relay Gold, 1x Relay Bronze Records: 1x Relay ER|
|Lucy Wheeler 18/24 Yrs||1x Silver, 1x Bronze 1x Relay Gold, 1x Relay Bronze Records: 1x ER, 1x Relay ER|
|Jake Lloyd 25/29 Yrs||1x Gold 1x Relay Gold, 1x Relay Bronze Records: 1x Relay ER|
On Saturday 16th Sept, a group of BSSC Masters swimmers entered the annual Swim Serpentine open water swim in Hyde Park in London. Geoff and Annabel entered in the 1-mile distance which is a single lap of the lake circuit and Helen, Jake and 2 ex-Masters Karen and Emma entered the 2-mile distance. Rachel had entered the Super Six (6-mile) but pulled out due to illness. As she is planning on swimming an open water competition in Montenegro on 29th Sep, her recovery took priority. Keep your ears open for news of how she got on.
The morning started with fantastic weather and the 2-mile Ladies swimming at 09:20. Helen swam in 59 minutes 57 seconds, finishing 9th in her age group, the 71st female and 245th out of the 3109 male and female swimmers that swam the 2-mile distance. Karen swam 1:03:44 and finished 445th overall. Emma swam 1:16:51 and finished 1436th.
After the day had warmed up even more, Geoff and Annabel swam at 13:50. Geoff completed his swim in 23:34 and finished an impressive 4th out of 809 swimmers (2nd in his age group and 3rd male overall). Annabel swam 31:39 and finished 24th in her age group, 40th female and 86th overall.
To wrap things up Jake swam his 2 miles at 15:30, completing it in 50:13, coming 15th in his age group, 24th male and 32nd out of 3109 swimmers.
It was a fantastic day with an incredible atmosphere and a very friendly community of swimmers. The spaces for entering this year disappeared very quickly so if you are interested in swimming the Swim Serpentine 2024 register your interest now. It would be great to see more BSSC swimmers at the lake.
[Article by Jake Lloyd, BSSC Masters]
You haven’t swum a lake until you have completed the full length of it. That’s the claim of Chillswim, a company specialising in open water, outdoor & wild swimming who are passionate about creating the world’s best open water events.
Paul Palmer, BSSC Masters swimmer and Olympic Silver medallist (400m freestyle, 1996 Atlanta) recently took part in the 10th Anniversary of the Aquasphere Chillswim Coniston End to End event in the Lake District and shared his experience with our swimmers.
During my competitive career, the thought of open water swimming never really crossed my mind – all focus was on the Olympic pool. Now that that is a distant memory, I was persuaded by some old swim mates to enter the Chillswim Lake Coniston event in June this year. It’s an 8.5km swim of the lake (5.25 miles in old money). An end-to-end swim in a glorious Lake District setting. 20+ years ago that would have taken me approx. 1 hour 30 mins. 20 years, however, is a long time, with a lot of puddings and pints consumed since. Nowadays, the odd masters session that I do sees me cover between 3-4km, so I was pretty daunted by having to do double that and not to have any turns to rest on. Anyway, in for a penny, in for a pound, so I lined up on the Saturday morning in my wetsuit and tow float and took to the water with 550 other hardy / deranged souls. The event was swam in waves, with the slower swimmers going first – the idea being that all would finish at roughly the same time. For me, this worked quite well as the competitor in me still quite enjoys overtaking other swimmers, so there was plenty of that to keep me going.
The event itself was, for me, a “race” in three parts: the first couple of miles were fine, although swimming in a straight line for 5+ miles makes you realise how far each half mile is. Buoys signified each half mile and it surprised me how long they took to arrive. Still whatever I was experiencing, I was pretty sure others would be as well, so all was good for the first bit. There were drink and feeding stations at certain intervals, which were important as drinking some water really helped, and the 30 second break was more than welcome to rest my shoulders. It’s not an event where you are ever out of breath, but turning your arms over without respite for that length of time takes its toll, so a few 30 second stops really helped.
After 2.5 miles I’d been swimming for about 55 minutes and was starting to feel it a bit as I entered the next phase. The wind picked up a bit and the water got choppier, which made keeping a smooth stroke more of a challenge. Hitting the 3 mile marker was a psychological win as it meant I was past the halfway mark. Plain sailing from here on, I thought… the trouble was, the next half-mile took forever. Arms were getting tired and the marker just didn’t seem to appear. I did get a bit worried – I was still overtaking people, but could also see a couple of other swimmers were tagging along with me, when I had initially pulled away from them at the start. The combo of swimmers keeping up with me and the 3.5 mile marker not appearing did not make me a happy chappy. Still, plug away, as they say. Eventually the marker turned up and disappointment turned to elation when I realised I’d somehow missed the 3.5 mile marker and I was now at the 4 mile marker. Knowing there was just over a mile to go, so 80% of the race was completed was a great feeling – it lifted me and helped spur me on (the mind is a curious thing!) and any previous internal grumblings about fatigue and aches evaporated.
The last mile was spent marking the two other swimmers and trying to get ahead of them, whilst continuing to overtake the slower swimmers that had started earlier. With about 500 metres to go, one of the rivals dropped away, so it became a head-to-head with the other swimmer. Even in wetsuits, goggles and caps, I could tell the swimmer was a lot younger than me (nice little excuse!) but it also became apparent that my rival was a female! This does matter to men – despite all the progress we have made with equality, being beaten by a girl is not something any male really wants to allow happen. That’s just how it is. Anyway, she was teak tough and would not be dropped. With 100 metres to go I could tell she was a lot fitter than me and no matter what I did, she responded. And then she eased ahead of me and that was that for I had nothing left to offer! Coming out of the water she was directly in front of me and then ran past an elderly gent that was also finishing and, to be honest, I mentally applauded her for, at that point, I was not for running to the finish line at all! She had been tracking me and I had been tracking her and she won out. That’s also how it is. Fair play to her competitiveness.
So, in the end, a second place was what I ended up with. Or so I thought… unbeknownst to me, right at the start another swimmer had set off at a much quicker pace and none of us ever saw him again. He finished 7 minutes quicker than me and was a comfortable victor. So third place for me and a time of 1 hour 55 mins. Would I do it again? Not sure – it was fun in parts, but I genuinely found it a long way. Maybe if there is a group to do it with I would consider, but only maybe. For those that are interested, there are plenty of similar swims throughout the summer months in every part of the country, so keep your eye out. It’s a really different experience to pool swimming and tests you in a different way and the settings are stunning. Definitely worth ticking the box – I’m just not sure if I need to tick it multiple times! Oh, and one final thought, there was lady who swam it who couldn’t do front crawl, so did the whole thing breaststroke. Took her over 4 hours, but she completed it. So there is no excuse for anyone who has concerns about finishing such an event – anyone can, it’s just how you do it and how long you’re prepared to swim for.
The annual British Masters Championships recently returned to Ponds Forge in Sheffield for the first time in seven years. Three BSSC Masters, Alyson Fordham, Lizzie Bellinger and Sally Winter joined more than 800 masters swimmers from across the home nations to compete in the 50m pool event. It was a thrilling and inspiring weekend, with multiple British and European records being set, including some by our BSSC swimmers!
Alyson Fordham became the first European woman in the 65-69 year category to swim under 31 seconds in the 50m Freestyle, taking Gold with a blistering time of 30.56 that many teenagers would be proud to achieve! She broke the British record to win the 50m Backstroke in a time of 38.53, took Gold in the 100m Freestyle (1:09.16) and according to Swim England, she was the star of the show in the 200m Freestyle, becoming a British record holder with a time of 2:38.23, securing Gold 3.10 seconds ahead of Silver and beating the previous best by 1.31! Sally Winter also took Gold in her age category (60-64 years) in a superb 200m Freestyle time of 2:35.61 and Bronze in the 100m Freestyle (1:10.73).
A British record also came from Lizzie Bellinger in the 100m Butterfly 45-49 years category taking Gold more than two seconds ahead of her closest rival in a time of 1:08.70, whilst Alyson also squeezed in a Silver in the 50m Breaststroke (41.65).
Massive congratulations to all three of our Masters swimmers.
One week after winning three Gold medals and smashing three new long course (50m) East Region records, BSSC Masters swimmer Lizzie Bellinger continued her golden record breaking form at the Derbyshire Open Masters Championships. Three more Gold medals and three short course (25m) East Region 45-49yr age group records were secured in the 100m Fly (1:07.60), 200m IM (2:39.07) and 50m Fly (30.48).
We’re looking forward to seeing her in action at the British Masters Championships early June.