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Swim England’s annual National Water Festival, which incorporates the Swim England Open Water Masters and Swim England Open Water Age Groups Championships, again took place this year at South Yorkshire’s Rother Valley Country Park on 30-31 July with a record number of 19 swimmers from six Dorset clubs competing and ending in one Age Group and two Masters medals plus another six top ten placings.

Day one brought two medals for Dorset with Littledown Masters’ Cathy Hartle and Anne Stuhlmacher of Poole SC both winning Masters Championships medals in their respective age groups in the 3km event. A time of 48:04.25 secured a gold for Cathy in the 55-59 years age group while Anne finished in silver position with a time of 44:08.40 in the 35-39 years. There was a top ten placing for Ali Pickford (Clayesmore), finishing fifth in the 45-49 years age group in a time of 57:01.98.

Day two and the Age Group Championships, with the younger swimmers competing in 1.5km (12-14 years), 3km (15-16 years) or 5km (17-19+ years) events according to age. The final medal of the Championships came from Bournemouth Collegiate’s Alex Palotai-Avella in the 13 years 1.5k event with a time of 19:06.39, finishing as runner-up to Tynemouth’s Lucy Hedley and bringing home a silver medal. In the same event, Ryan Symington (BCS) was just outside top ten placing, finishing 11th in the 14 years age group with a time of 18:38.30.

There were also plenty of top ten placings for Dorset with Poole swimmers Teagan-Mae Graham (38:32.77) and Thea O’Keefe (1:03.25.18) both finishing in sixth place in the 3km 16 years and 5km 17/18 years categories respectively, while in the 19+ years age group Swim Bournemouth’s Lucy Pearce (1:05:09.29), Kathleen Baker (1:05:16.13) and Jordan Young (1:04:39.29) finished in seventh, eighth and tenth place respectively. Competing clubs were BCS, Clayesmore, Littledown Masters, Poole, Seagulls and Swim Bournemouth.

Photos: Littledown Masters’ Cathy Hartle (left) and right, Alex Palotai-Avella with Ryan Symington from Bournemouth Collegiate.