18 Aug 2008

2008 World Masters Championships in Perth, Australia

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Joan Kidd and Jenny Ball, competition regulars, travelled a little further afield this time to take part in the twelfth FINA World Masters Championships in Perth, Western Australia.

It is a beautiful city and though somewhat isolated from the rest of the huge continent, has everything – a friendly and relaxed lifestyle, café’s, restaurants, night life, a beautiful river, stunning beaches and a wonderful wine growing region along the Swan River.

Joan was invited to stay with Gordon Newman’s niece and her husband, near to the pools. Those who remember Gordon, who is now 87, will recall his 50m.freestyle masters record of 40.12 seconds, broken at our second Heights meet in 2000 when he was 80. His record still stands and though he does not swim now he challenges Joan to a weekly chess game and it is always very competitive!

With just over 4000 competitors of all ages from 25 to 90 plus, it was a very busy schedule run over 8 days at the Challenge Stadium, host to many International events including mainstream World Swimming.

The venue included three 50 metre pools, two outdoors! In addition to the swimming competition, masters diving, water polo and synchronised swimming Championships also took place, all including many famous names from past Olympic and Commomwealth Games.

Joan and Jenny were pleased to find themselves competing in the final heats in their respective age groups and with medals being awarded to the fastest ten swimmers, both won medals in all their events.

Joan, competing in her second year in the 80-84 years group won silvers for 50 and 100 breaststroke, her 50 metre time of 59.45 seconds being the British Masters record which had illuded her in her run of Long Course records last year.

With a bronze medal in 100 backstroke and fourths for 200 breast and back, Joan proved yet again what an excellent all rounder and fit lady that she is at nearly 81!

Jenny was equally delighted to win six medals, her best result in international competition, holding times swum up to six years ago.

For her the 3km Open Water swim in the Swan River was the culmination of the week. The sun shone after a somewhat showery, autumnal spell. The water was 21C degrees, and in spite of large but harmless jelly fish for company, Jenny managed a time of one hour 7 minutes for 5th place in the 70-74 years age group.

Her other medals were 6th in 800 freestyle, 7th in 200 back and 400 free, 8th in 200 free and 100 back.

Our journey to and from Perth was via Dubai where our stop of just 2 hours was long enough in the huge but hectic airport. No prolonged stop-overs for us, we went, we swam, saw all the local sights and came home again, all in twelve days but it was a wonderful experience.

Held every two years, the next World Masters Championships will be held in Gothenburg in Sweden in 2010 – who is up for it ?

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