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British Swimming coach of the year Mel Marshall talks Masters swimming

City of Derby Masters swimmer Val Thorpe blogs about the impact Mel Marshall has had on the the East Midlands club and how she has inspired them to aim to compete at the 2016 European Masters Championships in London.

Most people involved in swimming will recognise the name Mel Marshall.

Mel MarshallDouble Olympian and the most decorated English female athlete at a single Commonwealth Games, winning six medals (a feat recently equalled by Siobhan O’Connor), Mel has over 20 World, European and Commonwealth medals to her name.

Her first international meet was when she was 13 and she continued as an international swimmer for 15 years.

When she retired after the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Mel became head coach at City of Derby and is now responsible for coaching world record holder and Commonwealth and European champion Adam Peaty, along with a string of other promising young elite swimmers.

Last year Mel was named British Swimming’s Coach of the Year and she is now working regularly with the British team at major meets.

Masters swimming the beacon of opportunity

So you might think that being so involved with elite swimming, she doesn’t have a lot of thoughts about Masters swimming, but you’d be wrong. This is what Mel had to say in a recent interview:

“Masters swimming for me is the beacon of opportunity. You can take it seriously and enjoy the fruits of high level world class competition. Or you can train and compete for fun and enjoy a cake and a beer afterwards. A win win situation!

Swimming can be a life long journey and Masters really demonstrates this.

“Swimming is a beautiful sport that houses so many opportunities. Having worked with Masters they are an inspiration. The Masters swimmer has survived the swimming journey and is still thirsty for more. Swimming can be a life long journey and Masters really demonstrates this.

“My philosophy is everyone has to get to their own individual Olympics whatever that may be. This could be the county championships or to swim to the other side of the channel. Or it could be simply to stay healthy into your late 80s.

“Whatever it is, Masters swimming allows swimmers the opportunity to do anything, be anything and enjoy everything.”

That last line of Mel’s “do anything, be anything and enjoy everything” could be the motto for Masters swimmers everywhere!

If you’ve never experienced 5.30am training with someone as lively as Mel demanding just one more max, you’ve not lived!

For City of Derby Masters, that motto certainly came true with Mel’s arrival. She convinced us that we were good enough to compete internationally and cajoled a group of us into entering European Masters and letting us train with her elite National squad.

Bouncing off the walls at an ungodly hour

If you’ve never experienced 5.30am training with someone as lively as Mel, demanding just “one more max”, playing loud music and bouncing off the walls at an ungodly hour you’ve not lived!

But we’ve not looked back since and we’ve had the added advantage of Mel’s contacts. Commonwealth gold medallist Ross Davenport and 2012 Olympian Grant Turner have both worked with our Masters group.

Being able to ask for help about all aspects of swimming from Mel and her fellow Olympians is a real privilege even if the intensity of training does leave us ‘older’ swimmers breathless!!