More than 40 swimmers stripped down to bare skin in the driving rain on Sunday to  honour Roy Allan-Burch (pictured) and the Bermuda Masters Swimming Association. *File photo
More than 40 swimmers stripped down to bare skin in the driving rain on Sunday to honour Roy Allan-Burch (pictured) and the Bermuda Masters Swimming Association. *File photo

MONDAY, DECEMBER 19: In what can only be described as horrid conditions, and on the coldest evening of the year, over 40 swimmers stripped down to bare skin in the driving rain to honour Roy Allan-Burch and the Bermuda Masters Swimming Association, by competing in the inaugural National Age Group Championships.

And the much hyped Roy Relay Race where the iconic swimmer took on five teams all containing four swimmers doing 25m legs while he did the whole 100m, was a spectators delight because Roy won it.

He led from start to finish but the Bermuda Rep Team containing former 1996 Olympian Steven Fahey, current National 100m breaststroke holder, Julian Fletcher, as well as the islands fastest teenager, Nic Patterson and former National Team member Ashley Aitken came with a whirlwind finish to just fail.

Burch swam faster than his National 100m short course record when he stopped the clock at 50.46 seconds, but it won’t count as a record because he was wearing a FINA banned suit.

However, there is comfort in knowing that his swim was the fastest by a Bermudian ever in a pool in Bermuda.

The Bermuda Rep Team clocked 50.79 seconds, followed by the other Bermuda Rep team which contained 1992 Olympian Ian Raynor, which clocked 51.38 seconds.

Burch said: "That was hard, man. It was great fun, but with such cold weather no one could swim as fast as they wanted to.

“Saying that, it was a great race and a great spectacle and I am just so humbled by the fact it was put on to help me."

Roy also took part in three individual events, the 50m freestyle, the

50m butterfly and the 100m Backstroke.

In an attempt to break national records in those events and make them official, he took his full body suit off.

He duly won them all, the 50m free in a time of 25.12 seconds beating the Herring brothers — Matt in 28.06 seconds and older bro Jonathan in 28.08 seconds.

The 50m freestyle proved to be the most popular event in terms of competitors with National Age Group Champions being crowned in 13 different age categories including Colleen Nelson in the women's 60-64 group (35.29 seconds which is world class for her age) and Sandra Dallas who won the women's 70-74 age group in 73.84 seconds.

Dallas also won titles in her age category in the 50m breaststroke and 50m backstroke.

Cora Starzomski was the fastest female of the night in the 50m free when she claimed the national title and age group record in the 35-39 bracket, clocking 31.30sec.

The enigmatic Raynor also won a national title in the 35-39 bracket clocking a stunning 26.31 seconds.

His swim was meritorious on many levels.

Firstly, because he doesn't train as much as say some other world ranked former Olympians.

Yet in the driving rain, and freezing conditions, in a pool, because of the conditions had become slower than any indoor facility, his time of 26.31 seconds
looked pretty impressive when compared to the 10th fastest time in the
world this year for his age bracket of 24.32 seconds set by former British
team member, Stephen Mavin, who recently won nine gold medals at the UK Masters Championships.

Ashley Aitken won the 50m Butterfly in her age category - 25-29 in a time of 31.52 seconds, just three seconds slower than the national record she holds for the race, which she set nearly six years ago in Canada while in full training mode.
Other impressive national title winners and age group record makers included Christiane Wehmeyer who climbed off her sick bed to win three individual crowns in the 100m IM, the 50m backstroke and the 100m Backstroke. Prominent ocean swimmer and triathlete Tony Hall picked up three titles also in the 30-24 Age group for the 100m IM, 50m butterfly and the 50m free while local boy Bryce Williams collected a treble of titles too including the 100m free in the 20-24 age group.

Legendary triathlete Karen Smith won two races in the 40-44 Age Group; the 100m free and the 50m free.

Ric Chapman won two titles in the 50-55 Age Group.
Jonathan Herring won an age group title in the 100m Freestyle clocking a stunning 60.39 seconds in the 25-29 Age category.

At the other end of the spectrum, Margaret Marshall won three events in the 65-69 Age Group.

The full list of results will be published on the website, but what this meet clearly told athletes of Bermuda is this: it does not matter what age or what weather conditions are about, sport for athletes over 20 years of age is alive and kicking in Bermuda.