Jemma makes real splash on her debut

Matlock and District Swimming Club's Jemma Gascoyne
Matlock and District Swimming Club's Jemma Gascoyne

The third round of the Arena National League competition was officially a home fixture for Matlock and District Swimming Club although it was held in Clay Cross.

The opening 100 metres individual medley races were won by Diane Lee and John Davey, both also winning their other individual events for butterfly and breaststroke.

These performances inspired the home swimmers to put in possibly the best team performance of the season. Other individual race winners were Helen Thornhill, Sarah Cross, Leanne Smith and Callum Gascoyne.

Personal best times were recorded by Harrison Fern, Grace Tunnicliffe, Hannah Curran, Helen Thornhill, John Webster, Sarah Cross, Callum Gascoyne, Laura Smith and Michael Beech.

Head coach Gary McCaffrey recorded his pleasure in the result, where Matlock came second out of the six teams competing. “We took on some much bigger teams tonight, and came out on top, with only Lichfield able to overhaul the home side’s tally of 196 points. We can carry the momentum of this result into personal and team events, which bodes well for all of the swimmers involved.”

He also noted that a new pool currently under construction would help with future home events. “Because Matlock Lido is a non-standard length, we are not able to have a true home competition. However, the new pool will be a regulation 25 metres and we hope to generate a great home team spirit when we finally get into our new home.”

Meanwhile, Ponds Forge in Sheffield was the venue for the long course sprint championships.

Despite the early Sunday start and a team competition the previous evening, Matlock had a healthy contingent to compete in these championships.

Swim of the day came from debutante Jemma Gascoyne, who became girls champion for age nine years in the 50m Backstroke race. Other swims of note came from Emily Croft, another first timer at the prestigious venue, and Sarah Cross, aged 12, competing in the almost marathon 400m freestyle race, and achieving fourth overall while racing against 16 and 17 year old competitors.

Other swimmers competing in this event were Harrison Fern, Callum Gascoyne, Jorge Thompson, Hannah and Claire Curran, Cate Caine and Emily Croft.

Gary McCaffery was delighted with the younger swimmers: “This is an international venue and it would be easy to be daunted by the size of the pool, and the hundreds of people watching from the seated gallery. That these young athletes came here for the first time, and put in such stirring performances is testament to their self belief and confidence. To then go on and achieve so many good places, and in the case of Jemma a first, can only be good for them in the future.”

Finally, the Matlock masters squad hit gold during the recent Etwall open meet held at Queen’s Leisure Centre in Derby, with eight Derbyshire ASA gold medals being awarded to Gail Cross, Cate Caine and John Davey.

Cate Caine also went on to become the top female swimmer for her age group in Derbyshire, while John Davey achieved meet best times for two of his events.

These three champions helped Matlock to achieve a position of 11th in the countywide championships, out of 40 clubs competing.

Other swimmers from Matlock included Joanna Rees with two thirds and one fourth, and Ralph Cross with a fourth and ninth place, and relay swimmers Christine Howard, Kevin Sellors and Marcus Bell.

Gary McCaffery could not hide his pleasure at the achievements of these swimmers. “To have two Derbyshire champions in our squad is of enormous benefit to all of the swimmers, who now have a role model to look up to.

“These swimmers are adults who choose swimming to achieve and maintain their fitness using swimming, and they are an example to anyone that with effort, application and determination, results will follow.”

The next masters open meet is at Rykneld Swimming Club on February 5.