Berko and Hemel swimmers join forces to star in Masters competition

Berkhamsted & Hemel Hempstead’s Masters swimmers have joined forces to compete at the British Championships at Ponds Forge in Sheffield, covering themselves in glory along the way.
The successful squad with their medals in Sheffield.The successful squad with their medals in Sheffield.
The successful squad with their medals in Sheffield.

Berkhamsted’s Mark Strakosch began the meet for the eight-strong squad in the 800m looking to take the East Region Long Course (LC) record, having briefly held the same record in a 25m (SC) pool last year.

Starting steadily, he turned in about fourth for the first couple of lengths before gradually moving through to lead until the final 50m where he was pipped at the post by the fast finishing winner.

However, his final 10:44.13 was 44 seconds faster than last year and set a new record as well as taking the silver medal overall.

Mark also swept up the bronze medal in the 1500m, again over 30 seconds faster than his entry time, ducking under 21 minutes with 20:50.97. He was three seconds inside his 100m back entry time with 1:24.65 (7th) and 14 seconds faster in his 400m Free (5th in 5:17.84) and placed 10th in the 50m Back, 39.09.

Tracy Van Deventer was the next swimmer chasing Regional Records and did not disappoint. In the 400m IM she shaved 0.44 seconds from her recent best to take the silver medal in her Age Group with 6:14.00. This time puts her back on the list of record holders with a time just nine seconds off her personal best from 2017.

She followed this up with two other silver medals in the 200m Free (2:37.69) and 200m Fly (3:13.05) where she experimented with a new breathing pattern. This resulted in her having a bit more in the tank towards the end of the tough event.

Her 100m Fly, 1:25.94, placed her seventh but her crowning glory was the gold medal in the 400m free with 5:33.34.

Hemel’s Dave Pirrie was the final regional record breaker in the 100m Breast. His 1:25.95 updated his own record as he claimed the gold medal in his age group in his speciality event. He went on to take a further gold in the 200m breast with 3:13.56 and bronze in the 200m Individual Medley with 3:06.04 and had earlier produced 37.90 to claim silver in the 50m Breast.

Berkhamsted’s Sian, Ellie and Cam MacDonald all competed at Nationals for the first time together. Sian’s best placing was fourth in the 100m Breast (1:38.66) with seventh in the sprint 50m Breast. Her 45.07 for the shorter event was inside her entry time. Sian also took on the 50m and 100m free clocking 37.57 (9th) and 1:25.54 (6th) respectively.

Meanwhile daughter Ellie, took home the bronze medal in the 100m breast, 1:24.69 and placed fourth in the shorter 50m event with 38.35. In the 50m free she ducked inside the magic 30 seconds with 29.44 for eighth and recorded 1:05.73 for the 100m free, 11th.

Youngest of the clan, Cam, picked up ninth in the 100m back with 1:09.23, 12th in the 50m back (31.05) and improved his LC best with 30.28 for the sprint butterfly (10th).

Hemel’s Mark Ayres took on five events, winning silver in the 100m fly in 1:33.41 and knocking two seconds from his entry time. He also placed sixth in the 50m breast (42.62); fifth in the 100m breast (1:35.58); sixth in the 50m fly (38.14) and hit the finish in 34.47 for his 50m free. Both of the final two 50m races were inside his entry times.

The final swimmer of the group was Hilary Coulson who also picked up a medal in the 200m back. Her 3:29.44 was good enough for the bronze medal whilst her 1:35.47 for the 100m back placed her fourth.

The group combined in the relays as well and placed first, second and fourth in their three events. The 4 x 200m mixed relay produced the gold with Coulson, Ayres and Sian MacDonald handing over to Strakosch on the anchor leg and he stormed through to win the heat with 11:38.07.

The silver medal came in the Mixed 4 x 100m Medley event with Pirrie replacing Ayres and again Coulson, MacDonald and Ayres handed over to Strakosch on anchor to post 5:54.75 and the final relay was the Mmixed 4 x 100m free running in the same order as the 4 x 200m and the foursome clocking 5:20.19.

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