SWINDON Dolphin dominated the startlist at this year’s Wiltshire Open Water Championships, with almost half of the total turnout coming from the local club.
Twenty-five out of just over 60 competitors from across the county were Dolphin members for the event on the banks of Lake 32 at Keynes Country Park last Sunday evening.
Drifting off course played its part in the event, particularly for those more used to pool swimming and with limited exposure to open water competition. Dolphin’s John Cholod suffered the embarrassment of losing his way, missing a turn at one of the buoys during the 1500m event.
In the 11-year-old 750m event, Kerry Rutherford suffered the same fate and, despite having to stop for directions from one of the safety boats, still picked up a silver medal for her efforts.
Dolphin’s Lauren Matthews made no such mistake and took championship gold in the women’s 1500m. Tigersharks’ Abigale Cook won the junior event, with Dolphin’s Cathy Naus taking bronze. The men’s 1500m was won by Max Hazel of Bradford on Avon ahead of Dolphin’s Jake Lewis in the silver medal position. The swim also handed Lewis gold in the junior event ahead of Tigersharks’ Nathan Kennett in silver.
Dolphin competitors in the gruelling 3000m event had varying degrees of open water experience. Colin Jones was competing in his first competition, while at the other extreme was Helen Hanks, who is no stranger to open water having a few weeks earlier won age group gold in the 10k Jubilee River Swim.
There was a Dolphin clean sweep of championship medals for both the men and women, with gold for Fraser Durston and Beth Crouch, silver for Jason Tait and Helen Hanks and bronze for Colin Jones and Bethany Durston. Bethany Durston also won the junior girls’ championship.
The events also included age group categories, including masters, with Dolphin dominating the medal positions.
In the 1500m, age group golds went to Lauren Matthews, Sarah Day, Helen Hanks, Jake Lewis, Doug Alexander and John Cholod, age group silvers went to Cathy Naus, Megan Jones, Beth Crouch, Jo Blount, Miles Farrington, Jason Tait and Andy Garrett and bronzes went to Becky Matthews and Dean Fouracre.
Bethany Durston, Beth Crouch, Helen Hanks, Fraser Durston, Jason Tait and Colin Jones won age group 3000m gold.
Dolphin have recently started training sessions geared specifically towards open water swimming. Jason Tait, one of the coaching team, said: “I was proud to be part of such a great team today both from being a coach and a swimmer. It was very satisfying to see so many of the open water skills taught at the training sessions put into practice.”
Dolphin’s chief coach Louise Clayton was also pleased with the evening’s results, saying: “It is great to see the club diversifying towards other disciplines such as open water and good that we are able to provide the resource to be able to support and develop it in a professional way”.