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Masters Open Water Swimming on the World Stage – Kazan 2015

After winning the 30-34 Age Group at the ASA National Open Water Masters at the beginning of August, Pip Bennett of Otter Swimming Club flew to Kazan to race in the World Masters Swimming Championships, where he took part in the 3k open water event. This is his report.

This year FINA organised the World Masters Swimming Championships to follow on directly from the World Championships for the first time. This exciting change brought with it the opportunity to watch the elite swimmers in action before the Masters’ racing started. Even better, rather than being something of an after-thought, the organisation of the open water event was superb with open water swimmers being made to feel they were a major part of the championships. There were even towels and tea provided for the warm-up session the day before!

The course we swam on was an extended version of the lap used by the elite swimmers; while they did two, four or ten 2.5km laps we just did one that was 3km. During the warm-up the water was quite rough due to the wind, which was welcomed by those used to such conditions as it might give us an advantage over those more used to flat-calm pool conditions. However, on the morning of the race it was calm and sunny.

Before racing we had our numbers applied and our swimming costumes checked for the all-important ‘FINA-approved’ badge. We then moved to the “call room” before we were each announced to the spectators as we took up our assigned starting positions. Given the size of each wave we were started in the water and while being filmed, off we went. We raced in age-group waves of about 70 people with both men and women swimming together.

The course was a straightforward ‘U’ shape with in-water finish just past the high diving platforms. Despite the better weather the conditions were sufficiently interesting once we were further out into the river with some chop to test our open water swimming and sighting skills.

Unlike in some past editions of the race, the results were produced quickly and proper presentations made with careful instructions about not wearing a hat or trying to snatch the medal from those doing the awarding! As this was a major championship, minor medals are also awarded from fourth to sixth place so, as shown in the results below, some of the swimmers took home a hefty medal.

Results for swimmers representing British clubs

Adam Warner                    7th         25-29
Pip Seton Bennett           5th         30-34
Nick Hunt                            17th       55-59
Stuart McLellan                 5th         65-69
Tony Cherrington             2nd        70-74
Robert Lloyd Evans          7th         70-74

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.