Every week until Christmas, Midweek will visit one of the groups listed on our events page. This week, Julia Mahony visits the Masterton Masters Swimming Club.
For a Friday night dose of ‘impressive’, the Masterton Masters Swimming Club delivers.
Toned bodies glide through the Trust House Recreation Centre’s back pool, completing length after length for an hour.
Members’ occupations include farmer, wheelwright, office worker, police officer, ex-mayor, lawyer, mechanic, film editor, events promoter, DOC worker and teacher – but jobs are left on land, as swimmers aged from their 30s to their 80s take to the lanes.
Watching poolside is “the glue of the club”, treasurer Lola, who’s been handling things for 33 years.
“Masters swimming is about fitness and fun,” she said. “This isn’t a learn to swim school – we cater for people who have their own personal goals, be it open water swimming challenges, Masters games, triathlons.”
As a guide, new members should be able to swim 400m in about 15 minutes.
“Sometimes we get people who only stay for six months to train, if they have an event coming up,” Lola said.
Friday night sessions attract between 10-19 swimmers, coached by former secondary school PE teacher Richard Swallow, who organises swimmers according to their abilities, sets them challenges and helps with stroke technique.
This time, it’s dolphin kicks underwater with swimmers on their backs, for as far as they can go, then carrying small timers with beepers.
“It’s all about cadence,” Swallow said. He tells the swimmers to find their rhythm with the beep, beep, beep of the timer, then try to pick up the pace.
“With new swimmers, I follow them with an underwater camera, to show their style – they say, ‘is that really how I swim?’”
The ‘Shear Magic’ Masterton Masters Swimming Club celebrated 40 years this year, formed in 1983 with a goal of fun, friendship and competition in Wairarapa. It’s active all year round, with members travelling to compete.
“Our club has an easy-going nature; swimmers being able to join as social members without engaging in the competitive side of things. All swimmers are very accepting of new members who quickly enjoy the camaraderie that comes with membership,” foundation member Paul Maguire said.
“Sessions are never boring and members finish each one knowing they have had a workout, while also improving their swimming.”
Events throughout the year include open water swimming in Lake Taupo and ocean swims in the Wellington and Hawkes Bay area. In addition, there are many pool carnivals, all with a fun and social emphasis, Maguire said.
Earlier this year, Wairarapa masters swimmers Robyn Wells, Swallow and Maguire returned with a host of medals from the National Masters Championships in Hastings.
Masterton Masters Swimming Club sessions are Monday to Friday 6am [informal, self paced session]; Saturday and Sunday 8am [informal, self paced session] and Friday 5.30pm [club night with coach on deck]. Call Stu 027 295-4189 or Lucy 021 0204-4144.