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Spotlight on: Kings Cormorants 320+ Relay

There will be a number of GB 320 Masters relay teams competing at the LEN European Masters Championships 2016, including one from King Cormorants.

The club’s 32o+ team recently broke the short course British record for the mixed 4×50 Freestyle relay at the Guernsey meet. The same team have entered the London 2016 Europeans and look strong for a podium position.

A 320 Masters relay team comprises of four swimmers who collectively make up an age of 320+. They can be single sex or mixed genders depending on the race you are competing in.

King Cormorants’ GB 320 Masters relay team profile

All four swimmers in this GB 32o Masters relay team are record holders and between them have hundreds of medals from all levels of competition.

Geoff Bishop (80)

Geoff learnt to swim in 1946 and swam Breaststroke for Maidstone in the Kent County Championships, a stroke for which he is still known. This year he broke the 50m Breaststroke British Record for his age group. As a 15 year old he was the Maidstone Club Champion over the 100 yards Butterfly. Not long after this Geoff joined the Navy and swam for them. He took up Masters in the mid-1970s when it started in the UK, competing in meets run by Otter Swimming Club.

Frank Taylor (85)

Frank first tried to learn to swim at the age of three, only to be disappointed because he was not allowed to enter the pool as it was for ladies only! So instead he tried to swim in the Leeds & Liverpool Canal only to be rescued by a young man whose was awarded a new suit by the Mayor of Blackburn for his efforts. Frank went on to work in television, mainly outside broadcasting. Frank said “a high point of his career was he got to meet Johnny Weissmuller”.

This did not spur Frank into competitive swimming though, and he didn’t consider swimming until retirement.  At this point he needed a new activity so decided to take the grandchildren swimming, and discovered Masters. The club he was with were not keen on competing so he found a competition to enter – a meet at Barnet Copthall – and despite his coach’s view “that he would be slaughtered” he won his first medal, a bronze.

Penny Webster (74)

Penny began swimming aged nine with Kingston Ladies and clearly had a gift for swimming, particularly front crawl as it was known then. She swam in national events from the age of 15 and was a national finalist. She was in the Championship Women’s FC Team 1957-58, swam for Surrey County team in the late fifties and early sixties, and now has been in the Surrey County Masters Team.

In 1958 Penny swam in the Empire Games trials in Cardiff. She went on to train as a swimming teacher and over 30 years has taught hundreds of children to swim at Kingston Ladies (now Kingston Royals). As a Masters swimmer Penny has competed in many international meets including three Europeans and eight Worlds. At these she has set numerous British Records. More recently she has entered open water swimming events like the Barbados International Swimming Festival.

Jane Asher (85)

Jane learnt to swim in South Africa where she grew up. She swam at school and at university before moving in 1953. She came to Britain to take a post-graduate diploma in personnel management at Manchester University. Here she swam on the university swim team and later trained as a swimming teacher and coach and taught many to swim in Norfolk where she was living at the time.

Following encouragement from some of her pupils Jane, in her forties, returned to the pool to compete in Masters. She has accumulated over 75 Masters world records and well over 120 British Masters national records. This trend continues now that she is in the first year of the 85-89 years age group, having set new World, European and British Records in six freestyle events, and many more in other strokes. Jane is currently the coach of Kings Cormorants Masters Club and has done much to encourage its members to swim at the Europeans in London.