A masterful show from the Hemel seven in Sheffield


A group of seven swimmers from Hemel Hempstead SC travelled to Sheffield to compete in the National Masters and Senior Age Group Swimming Championships.

The team produced some excellent performances and returned with an impressive haul of personal best times as they took on swimmers from clubs across the country.

Leading the way was Annette Thatcher, 61, who won gold in the 50m freestyle and bagged silver medals in the 100m IM, 50m and 100m breaststroke, 100m freestyle and 50m backstroke.

Many of Annette’s swims would have won medals in younger age groups.

Meanwhile, 37-year-old Jo Lee-Pearce – a former national swimmer – performed brilliantly despite a shoulder injury as she took fourth in the 200m backstroke.

She followed up with top-six placings in the 200m IM and 100m backstroke, and top-10 finishes in the 100m IM and 50m breaststroke.

Rachel Barber, 24, was making her debut at this level and secured top-10 finishes in the 50m and 100m breaststroke and 50m backstroke, and also competed in the 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle.

Matthew Rafiq-Craske, 42, was also making his debut at national level and did well in the 100m and 200m IM and the 200m freestyle.

Kira Doyle was swimming in the very competitive senior age group and the 18-year-old notched top-10 finishes in her favoured 50m and 100m breaststroke events. She also competed in the 100m freestyle and the 50m butterfly.

Paul Mackie, 20 – the coach for the masters group and also a former national swimmer – swam in the 50m butterfly and the 100m freestyle, where he recorded his fastest time for three years to finish 24th.

Alexandra Hatt, 19, was competing for Loughborough University and won bronze in the 50m breaststroke as well as a silver medal in the ladies’ 4x50m medley relay.