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Para-swimmers share experience of 'supportive' Masters environment

After a successful trial at last year’s Swim England Masters National Championships, para-swimming will be on the schedule again for 2023 and those that have taken part have shared their desire to continue swimming competitively.

Athletes from this year’s British Championships – hosted by Swim England – spoke of their memories and moments from the competition in Sheffield and how they’re having Masters events gives them more opportunities to compete.

It was the first time that para-swimming had been a part of the British competition and 23-year-old Joseph Seage – who already had 13 years of competitive experience to fall back on – spoke of the joy at competing at such an event at his home club pool.

The City of Sheffield swimmer said: “I’m happy because I got four gold medals and two silver medals. It was amazing and terrific!

“I really hope to see Masters competitions inviting entries from disabled athletes as I believe that Masters swimming is for everyone…it would be great to see more competitors in the future.

The familiarity with the environment around the pool and the support of the team he trains with every week was an additional motivation for Joseph.

“I compete alongside my club members in training and so I was very happy to swim alongside them at the British Masters Championships.

“I plan on continuing training and enjoying swimming with my club. Swimming is so good for me, it helps me in everyday life.

“Swimmers aged 18 or over with disabilities can compete and having para-swimming in Masters events means they always have a place to do so.”

Something to aim for

Bret Bassett, 29, swimming for the City of Derby was equally motivated by proceedings in the Steel City.

The event was a new way forward, something to target, to improve and aim for the former international triathlete.

He said: “Look at it. We’re at an Olympic-standard race pool. Look how many people are here. England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland. It’s awesome.”

His dad, Steve, added: “It’s great. People don’t see [Bret] as a para, they just see him as a fellow competitor. He’s just racing the same as everybody else. It’s just a normal race.

“There are people that we’ve met for the first time, and they’ve been very supportive, very encouraging.

“It was only after the last Olympics, that we realised there was an S14 category. I went online and had a look and thought ‘I wonder what this is?’

“I realised that maybe there’s an avenue or a pathway for him to be a part of. And now that we’ve been involved and we know most of the events that they’re doing, I believe Bret can do them as well.”

Article written by Kevin Glenton.