Matt Hockin and Darren Beer from Crediton & District Swimming Club competed at the European Masters Aquatic Championships (25th – 29th May 2016) at the London Aquatic Centre, host of the Olympic Games in 2012. The event attracted over 10,000 swimmers, divers and synchronised swimmers to the five day event.
Matt and Darren arrived on the Friday evening to register and compete in two events each over the weekend. Once the formalities were completed, it was time to acquaint themselves with the surroundings and watch the swimmers below, preparing for their races in their national colours and meet up with other Devon swimmers for food and a catch up of the happenings of the event so far.
At the pool on Saturday morning, it was obvious the event was enormous with nearly 200 swimmers in Darren’s age group (45-49yrs) for the 50m butterfly in the morning and over 2000 swimmers swimming in Matt’s (30-34yrs) event, the 100m freestyle in all age groups in the afternoon. Darren touched home in 30.57, which was close to his long course personal best, while Matt finished in 1:05.36. It was not about the time, but the experience of swimming in front of 4500 people in the Olympic Pool and both rated it as one of their most special swimming experiences of their lives.
Following an evening at the nearby Westfield Stratford Centre for food and drinks along with the 1000s of international swimmers, it was back to the pool on Sunday morning for Darren to swim the 200m breaststroke, which he knew was going to be hard considering his illnesses of late, but he was really pleased to finish strongly in a time of 2:55.67. Matt again swam in the afternoon over the one length 50m with his favoured stroke, the freestyle and powered home in a time of 29.21.
Reflecting on the event, both said the experience was amazing and inspirational, seeing their names on the massive scoreboard followed by the Union Jack and GBR and swimming alongside so many international swimmers – they counted 7 other nationalities in one of their races. Bring on the World Championships in Budapest in 2017!