A year ago we posted some details on local swimmer Phil Muspratt who we were supporting. We caught up with Phil again and he gave us an update on his progress. Previous posts can be found at:
2012 Season Update
In February & March of 2012 the Wiltshire County Championships were held in Swindon. I'm pleased to inform you that I won the 50m, 100m & 200m freestyle. I broke the County record for my age group in the 50m Freestyle & swam the fastest times I ever had done, at such an early stage of the season. This left me in great confidence & hope for the coming year.
In March & April I was in Masters competition in Wales and Scotland respectively. The Welsh Masters National Championships was held as a long course competition (in a 50m pool) and the Scottish Masters National Championships was held as a short course competition (in a 25m pool). In Wales I came away with four golds & silver, although my results read well I was disappointed with my times that I swam. However in Scotland I was much happier with my performance. I came home with four individual golds & three Scottish National records. Of those three records I broke two and equalled another and I would have been able to officially claim those records if I was actually Scottish! They do split hairs north of the boarder; letting a little thing like me being English, stop me from claiming one of their records!
In May I was in Sheffield at the British Masters National Championships, which was held as a long course competition. This was great preparation for me, as the World Masters Championships in June were getting closers & closer. At this meet I produced my best swims of the year. I broke my 50m personal in a time of 23.76 seconds & I set a seasons best time in the 100m freestyle in a time of 52.80 seconds. I also got a PB in my 200m freestyle. As I went into this event having not tapered my training & rested, I was over the moon with how I swam.
June soon came with the World Masters Championships in Italy. This was the biggest event of my career, much bigger than last years European Masters Championships as I was of course faced with worldwide competition. I'm not sure exactly if it was illness or allergies but I was suffering with something in the weeks leading up to my event that effected my training. Although I tried not to dwell on this, so to not let it effect my races, I felt that it inevitably did. I was disappointed to come away with only one 4th place finish (in the 200m freestyle) and two 6th places finishes in the 50m & 100m freestyle. I went into this event having rested & tapered my training, so I naturally expected to swim faster than I did in Sheffield. In hindsight my taper didn't go smoothly, I wasn't swimming very fast in training & this sadly transmitted into my races. I was bitterly disappointed with how I swam but I knew I done my best at the time. The experience only made me more determined for future international championships.
I came home & rested for a few days, but I was soon back in heavy training as I had the National Youth Championships in July. Main-stream swimming & masters swimming are two totally different disciplines. Although masters competition can quite often & rightly be seen as a less competitive field, when you get to the top of pile (like at World & European level) the competition is still very tough with ex Olympic swimmers moving into masters swimming following their professional retirement. Main-stream swimming, i.e. the Youth National Championships, is full of swimmers trying to make it to the professional level.
At theses championships, held in Sheffield, I was seeded 32nd in the 100m freestyle & 17th in the 50m freestyle. My seeding admittedly didn't read great, but it is so tightly contested that a decent PB time, (of which I know I'm more than capable of) would shoot me from seeded 32nd to a top 10 finish & a spot in the final.
I'm happy to say I PB'd in both my 100m & 50m freestyle. Although my PB's weren't as big as I'd hoped, I was able to go from seeded 32nd to finishing 26th in the 100m freestyle and in the 50m freestyle I performed even better. I gained a marginal PB in a new time of 23.74 & finished in 13th place, four places ahead of my seeded place. I went agonisingly close to a place in the final, missing out by just .08 of a second. I beat Aaron Rickhuss of Plymouth Leander who swam for Great Britain at the Youth Commonwealth Games, as well as National Junior record holder Tsubasa Nakagawa & even Commonwealth medallist Jak Scott in the heats. To beat such fast swimmers yet miss out on a place in the final just demonstrates the competitive nature of the sprint freestyle events.
In summary of this past season, I am quite happy with how it has gone. I finished top of the Long Course UK Masters rankings for 50, 100 & 200m freestyle. Without wanting to sound big headed I dominated the national masters freestyle this year taking gold at the Welsh, Scottish & British Championships. In main stream swimming, I finished in the top 15 in the country for the 50m freestyle, when last year I didn't even qualify for the event, so my 13th & 26th place finishes are put into a more positive perspective. I am continuing to get faster, many people may say I'm too old when they see 15 & 16 year olds at the Olympics, but sprinters only reach their peak between 27 & 30 years old and when you consider Mark Foster was 37 when he went to his final Olympics in 2008, I have plenty of years ahead of me.
I'm continuing to get faster & next year I hope to accelerate that progression with my new training program and make real strides in the main stream swimming rankings. Many of the top swimmers mould their swimming around their education as opposed to moulding their education around their sport; so their sport comes first. For swimmers from teams such as Loughborough, Plymouth & Bath (to name a very few) they get to train in 50m pools day in day out with the best coaches, physio, sports masseurs, strength & conditioning coaches, nutritionists & facilities. I however have to juggle what time my club can get in the pool & my gym work around my job. I don't mention this to complain, because I genuinely I love what I do & just hope I can reach greater heights next year, as every early morning & missed social event with friends is worth it when I hit the timing pad & turn to see my name in 1st place & a PB time.