Saturday, September 11, 2021

Masters Swimming Competition Returns in Scotland

“Everyone’s loved it here – it’s been great. It’s good to be back and see some familiar faces” Eddie Riach, Chair of Masters Committee

Our first competition for Masters swimmers, the Scottish National Open Short Course and Senior Age Group Championships at Tollcross International Swimming Centre, has been a huge success with 1072 entries for 229 adults representing 63 clubs and spanning age groups from 18 to 79.

Commenting on the event Eddie Riach, Chair of the Masters Committee said “Everyone’s loved it here – it’s been great. It’s good to be back and see some familiar faces”

With 52 entrants in the 18-24 category alone, Masters swimming has attracted swimmers who have given up mainstream swimming and are keen to keep within the sport.

Robert Bryce age 27 "When I graduated and got a job it was so manageable to do 4 to 5 training sessions a week in the evening and have a life and have a job which was easier than the 10 sessions I used to do when I was younger.

Robert swims with Aberdeen Dolphin who won the team trophy with 420 points just ahead of Silver City Blues with 419 points. 

Eddie Riach added “I’m looking at the Aberdeen Dolphin team - they are having a great time and they are turning out some fantastic swims. I mean a 50 second 100m Freestyle at a Masters event in Scotland is impressive and there were two of them.

“What I would say to young swimmers is keep in touch with Scottish Swimming because you have swimming for life. What you have learned as a child will stay with your life and whereas the knees can sometimes go for runners, swimmers will have the ability to get exercise for the rest of their life and could have a really long, positive journey ahead of them.”

Speaking to siblings David, Sarah and Michael Smith who swim for Aberdeen Dolphin, David commented,

“I prefer Masters to Age Groups as there is less pressure, everyone is nice and friendly and speaks to each other from other clubs.”

Sarah said, “It’s so inspiring to see older people swim as fast as they do. I love Masters – it’s so much more relaxed. Everyone’s doing it because they love it. It’s really good to see people enjoying themselves.”

We also spoke to the oldest entrant, former Commonwealth Games swimmer Sandy Galletly age 79 who swims for Warrender Baths Swimming Club. Sandy, who had to pull out of this weekend’s event because of getting a battery replaced in his pacemaker, is testimony to the fact that swimming is for life and came along to the event for the social side of Masters swimming which is just as important as the competition.

Sandy commented “I’m a swimming addict, I enjoy keeping myself fit and it’s a blow that I could not swim this weekend but I have come along to see my friends. I’ve never missed a Scottish Masters event.

“Scottish Swimming were the first to introduce younger age groups at Masters events and I think it’s a great thing as there’s a lot of great kids and talent that could otherwise be lost to other sports because of the pressure and there are some fantastic times being posted at this event.”

With a number of Scottish records broken over the two days it’s been great to see swimmers back racing again.  While competition is not the choice of all Masters swimmers, those that choose to compete have a whole host of opportunities.

Eddie commented

“In terms of the competitive side of Masters, especially if you go down to England you could have a Masters event every weekend and maybe even a choice. Some may want to move to national level competition, you can swim at European level, World level and compete at the US Masters too. You can choose to dip in and out of competition too – there are so many pathways and opportunities. For all those competing this weekend there are probably the same number not competing so the social side of Masters is really important.

“Fun, Fitness and Friendship really spells it all out. We are missing the ceilidh which we haven’t held due to Covid protocols but the clubs are still able to socialise and the social element is probably the main anchor for many Masters swimmers.”