Swim ace Clare is master of all she surveys

Clare Willison
Clare Willison

Clare Willison has returned with five medals from the world masters swimming championships in Kazan, Russia

Willison represented GB in five events and scooped four silver medals and one bronze in the 60-64 age group.

Willison swims with Bognor Swimming Club, trains at Westgate in Chichester and lives at Bracklesham Bay.

She said: “I have been competing in masters competitions for about four years and have swum in national, European and world events.

“This is the first time I have come in the top three in the world events, though I have been second in European and first in national competitions in various strokes and distances.

“I won gold medals at the GB Masters long course championships in Manchester a couple of months ago in 50m butterly and 50m freestyle.”

The Masters age groups span five-year bands and having only just turned 60, Willison is the youngest of her age group.

In Kazan she was part of a GB squad of about 50 swimmers and she swan in the 200m backstroke (bronze medal, beaten by two South African swimmers); 100m freestyle (silver, beaten by a Russian); 50m freestyle (silver, beaten by the same Russian); 50m butterfly (seeded No1, won silver); and the 200 individual medley (silver, beaten by a Mexican ex-Olympian).

Willison, who runs Billy’s on the Beach cafe with husband Murray Johnstone, said: “While we were on the blocks in the butterfly, a Russian fell in before the start and I thought they would recall the race so I did not start and was ready to step down. But the umpires did not recall so by the time I dived in I was five seconds behind, but went on to get silver – that was my GOLD medal! I was very, very disappointed to lose under such circumstances – but actually... I never wear gold anyway!

“It was a privilege to represent Great Britain in Russia and a lifetime experience to win five medals in five events, particularly in different strokes.

“I would love to encourage more masters swimmers to join the Bognor club and compete at a higher level. We are very short of competing masters in this area – there are loads of tri-athletes but none one else at my level.”

To get involved in masters-level swimming, contact Clare at clare@mjohnstone.co.uk

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