STROUD Masters Swimming Club travelled to South Yorkshire’s Rother Valley Country Park to take part in the asa’s National 3km Open Water Championships.

The Masters session (run in conjunction with the seniors 18-24yrs competition) in the afternoon consisted of a men’s and ladies mass start.

Both events commenced with a dive from a 30m long jetty, with a nearby buoy funnelling swimmers between the jetty and the first / second lap turn buoy, creating a great spectacle for all the spectators present and those just visiting the country park for a day out. The third and final lap saw competitors swim under the inflatable finish gantry which electronically recorded their time using a small chip attached to each of the swimmer’s cap.

For a non-wetsuit event the water was a mild 19.5oC, however the water weed was quite prolific, especially in the home straight, meaning that some competitors had to decide to either alter their stroke occasionally to remove the drag inducing strands of weed they’d become entangled in, or keep swimming and hope the weed would dislodge itself.

The 45-49 age group for both men and women saw the greatest number of entries, with Richard Searle, 47, coming home first (4th Master overall) in the men’s category (42.14:59), and Mark Partridge, 49, beating off Martyn Webster, Ilkley SC, to secure fifth place (46.54:69). The ladies event started 10 minutes after the men’s event, meaning that for 25 minutes all male and female competitors were out on the course together. Jessica Wooddisse (35-39) secured Stroud’s second age-group open water national honour of the day, finishing in a time of 41:32:59 (first lady and third Master overall).