Open water series off to a flying start

Last Thursday morning’s thunderstorms ensured a tough start to Matlock and District Swimming Club’s first evening of races in their inaugural open water series.

For the first of three race evenings planned for the summer in the Derwent Gardens, Matlock Bath, the already high water levels were raised a touch more by the deluge, along with a strengthened current.

This left the organisers with a decision to be made about competitor safety, and with complete optimism, the three races over 250m, 500, and 1500m went ahead with over 90 swimmers signing up.

Some chose just one race, others did all three and all knew they were in for a tough time on feeling the 14-degree water seep through their wetsuits for the first time.

The first race had 47 participants battling upstream to the first turn buoy before racing away with the current for 125m and then turning again for the line to the finish.

Many were barely moving forwards upstream but determination won through eventually and the finishing times were actually on a par with those expected had it been in a mill pond.

First to cross the line was Laura Campbell from City of Sheffield SC in 3.35 closely followed by Derbyshire Police PTI Del Pitcher and Damon Manning each a further five seconds behind.

The 500m race, which comprised one full lap of the course, again required the same Herculean efforts at the top end of the course against the flow.

The host club provided all three top places in Sarah Cross (7.03), Jorge Thompson (7.06) and Di Lee (7.15).

Being Sarah and Jorge’s first river races, they demonstrated their courage and adaptability amongst a leading group of experienced athletes.

Finally, the three-lap 1500m race proved to be very popular considering that many had already raced twice. A great swim by Jack Simpson of City of Derby SC in 21.14 brought him to the finish in first place with Laura Campbell taking second this time. Third place went to Joe Scurral.

The events were conceived due to the lack of open water swim race opportunities in the area and MAD Swimming Club can consider themselves pioneers in this discipline.

It is something many of the club members have wanted for a long time and the healthy turn-out in this first ever event demonstrated this is the sentiment further afield too, with people having travelled from all of Derbyshire’s neighbouring counties to take part.

The other two evenings in the series are on 19th July and 16th August and are open to everyone over the age of 11 (12 for the 1500m race).

With an entry of only £5 for all three races (£2 extra for non-ASA or BTF members) the events represent great value. Wetsuits are compulsory and may be hired at the events. See for details.

The course will be moved 30 metres downstream to mitigate the effect of the current at the top end of the course and warm sunny evenings and less rainfall for a slower river flow have been booked for the remaining two events.