FINA’s 2012 decision to decision to expand the existing programme of the FINA World Championships and to add the Masters tournament to it, began with Kazan in 2015. This was met with a hugely positive response; masters’ swimmers got to enjoy the wonderful benefit of top class facilities, a destination prepped and ready to welcome the older generation of athletes, and being a part of the legacy that the competition creates.
This same feeling was felt this year, as right after the 17th FINA World Championships, Hungary had the pleasure to host the 17th FINA World Masters Championships as well.
From Friday 11th – Sunday 20th August 2017, Budapest and Balatonfüred welcomed an arrival of 9,283 athletes, of which 6,524 were swimmers, and 1,239 open water entrants (most of them also took part in swimming). On the busiest day in the Duna Arena 4,200 athletes took to the starting blocks in the two competition pools, swimming in 1,050 relays. The FINA World Masters Championships is by far the largest FINA event – and 2017 was the largest to date! Four competition pools were required to accommodate these numbers; two in the brand new Duna arena and two in the outdoor Alfréd Hajós national swimming complex.
Team Otter contributed a total of 22 athletes to the mix, and have some great results to show for it.
Friday, 11 August 2017 & Saturday, 12 August 2017
The beautiful scenic Lake Balaton (~130km from Budapest) hosted this year’s open water events. Eventually the races did go ahead as scheduled, and after much flight and accommodation confusion alongside choppy race conditions, Maddie Parra stormed onto the podium with 4th place in the 2.4k (this meet awarded medals for the first 6 positions), just 30secs behind the winner. A fantastic start to the meet for the team! This was closely followed by a great swim from Jess Thrope in 14th.
The men’s side was strongly represented by Pip Bennett, finishing in 8th, and Mike Reys competed in the 3k swim the day prior, placing 29th.
Monday, 14 August 2017
Most swimmers had arrived in Budapest by now and were making the most of the amazing training facilities available, or just enjoying the free transportation in the city for all athletes, the warm weather and beauty that Budapest has to offer.
Meanwhile, the swimming competition kicked off with a day dedicated to 800m freestyle. Otter was solely represented in this event by Pip Bennett in the Duna Arena, placing in the top 25.
Tuesday, 15 August 2017
The Duna Arena saw more Otter swimmers getting their first races underway. After enduring a 7am start, Wade Rimbach began with the 200m backstroke.
Unsurprisingly, Otter’s most popular event of the week was the 100m freestyle, with 10 swimmers competing. We saw several masters’ best times achieved by Michael Jennings, Martin Satorius, David Adamson, Fraser Peh, Graham Webster, Sarah-Jane Law, whilst Catherine Demont & David Adamson both finished in the top 20.
The breaststroke swimmers had voiced their excitement of racing in Adam Peaty’s water – and the women did so tremendously, Alice Dinsdale-Young who swam a masters’ best time, and Camille Vrain with a season’s best.
Meanwhile, the Alfréd Hajós Complex also saw a season’s best time in the 100m free for Olivier Geleoc, and a season’s best time for Liz Shaw in the 100m breaststroke.
Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Today saw several Otters racing outdoors in glorious sunshine for the first time, in the landmark Alfréd Hajós Complex on Margaret Island. This complex is also home to Hungary’s first indoor pool, where swimmers had the option of warming up.
The 400 individual medley saw Etienne Cambier & Wade Rimbach both finish in the top 20. Etienne doubled-up on his first day in the competition, producing a second masters’ best time in the 200m freestyle. Camille Vrain & Graham Webster achieved the same, and we saw a season’s best for Liz Shaw.
Sarah-Jane Law produced a significant masters’ best time in the 50m butterfly, and Dave Adamson’s fantastic time earnt him a 4th place medal.
Thursday, 17 August 2017
A little drama ensued when Alice Dinsdale-Young’s new racing suit ripped moments before the start of the 200 Individual Medal. Luckily, the referee allowed her 5mins for a spare suit change, which must have fuelled the adrenalin and help he speed through a masters’ best time, and her highest finishing place of 29th! Camille Vrain, in the same heat, was also delighted with a significant masters’ best time.
Unfortunately, last-minute injury had forced Hayley Davis to withdraw from her earlier races, but she braved the 200 individual medley, finishing in an impressive 14th place. Wade Rimbach also achieved a top 20 position in the same event.
Dontony Gill-Nasadi & Graham Webster The highlight of the day was Dave Adamson’s second visit to the podium, this time with a bronze medal. His time was just .16 behind recent Olympic gold medallist and ex-world record holder Darian Townsend, which speaks for itself as a massive achievement.
Saturday, 19 August 2017
Friday’s rest day appeared to pay off as all Otters shone in today’s performance of form strokes.
Wade Rimbach & Craig Gillespie both swam solidly in the 200 breaststroke. This was also Craig’s first event of the meet, which he closely followed with the 100m backstroke, clocking an impressive time for an event he much less frequents. Favouring the backstroke races, Michael Jennings & Martin Sartorius both ranked in the top 25.
Both Hayley Davis & Catherine Demont took on the 200m butterfly, sneaking into the top 10 in their respective age groups
Sunday, 20 August 2017
The last day of racing, and after a long week, the last Otters left standing had the pleasure of finishing in the Duna Arena.
Several swimmers achieved their highest rankings of the meet on the final day; Martin Sartorius in the 50m backstroke, Craig Gillespie in the 50m breaststroke & Wade Rimbach in the 400m freestyle. Catherine Demont also finished in the top 10 in the 400m freestyle.
Sarah-Jane Law finished on a high note, achieving a time a whole 15 seconds faster than her goal, and Dontony Gill-Nasadi was also delighted to swim his first 50m breaststroke in under 34 seconds
What felt like a very long and tiring, albeit thoroughly enjoyable week, came to a close. Every Otter swimmer went home with something to show for all their hard work, and a lot to thank Coach Steve for. Thanks to Steve, the team’s turns, transitions and breakouts have never looked better. We look forward to even more of Steve’s renownedrace pace work and reminders to ‘swim big’ over the coming months as we gear up for short course nationals.
We’re already excited for the next FINA Masters World Championships, and hopefully we’ll be taking an even bigger squad with us – see you in Gwangju in 2019!