FINA World Masters Championships
More information on the OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.finamasters2012.org
The 14th edition of the FINA World Masters Championships will take place in Riccione (ITA) on June 3-17, 2012
The FINA World Masters Championships is the Federation’s biggest competition in terms of participation, for the reason that it welcomes, every two years, swimmers, divers and water polo players aged 25 to more than a 100 years old from all corners of the world. The vibrant Masters movement actively promotes fitness, friendship, understanding and competition through its five disciplines (swimming, diving, water polo, synchronised swimming and open water swimming).
FINA officially created the Masters movement about 25 years ago, the first edition being held in 1986 in Tokyo, Japan, and would later confirm its inclusion at a Congress meeting in Madrid the same year. The second and third editions of the Championships included swimming events only. But since then (1990), it incorporates FINA’s five disciplines.
Discover Masters World: Jim Montgomery (USA)
Those who have had the good luck one day to meet Jim Montgomery certainly remember how genuine, kind and unassuming this great man is. The American is in Gothenburg (SWE) for the FINA Masters World Championships where he shares his thoughts about his incredible career, his new passions and why, at 55, he still swims.
It is hard to know where to start when recalling the accomplishments of the legendary freestyle swimmer, who was born in 1955 in Madison, Wis. (USA).
The sprinter years
Jim Montgomery etched his name into the history books when he was the first man to swim the 100m freestyle under the 50-second barrier in a World record time (49.99) at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal (CAN). He began an unstoppable reign over the freestyle events, also winning gold in 4x100m medley and 4x200m freestyle, and a bronze in the 200m freestyle.
Discover Masters World: Mieko Nagaoka (JPN)
Ms. Mieko Nagaoka was born in 1914. She lives alone in the South of Japan and started swimming at 80 years old to recover from a knee injury. Her story teaches us a simple but often overlooked lesson: it is never too late to start something and make great accomplishements.
In the beginning, Ms. Nagaoka didn’t know how to swim. She used to come to the swimming pool to do exercises for her knee. At 82, she started to learn and swim on her own. And because she performs in a Noh – Japanese traditional dancing dramas – this was also an incentive to learn how to swim so that she would keep in shape for the plays.
Masters putting new life into former Olympians' career
Evgeny Zhilyaev, 36 years old, Sergey Gorovoy, 34, and Alexandr Shvedov, 36, all belonged to the Kazakstan men’s water polo team which took part in the Olympic Games for the first time in Sydney (AUS) in 2000 and in Athens (GRE) in 2004, where they finished in a respectable ninth and eleventh place, respectively. They also made three FINA World Championships appearances in 1994 (Rome, ITA), 1998 (Perth, AUS) and 2001 (Fukuoka, JPN). They finished twelveth in Rome and Fukuoka and eleventh in Perth.
After a full high-profile water polo career, their still-competitive spirit continues to thrill at their first FINA Masters World Championships participation, in Gothenburg (SWE), where they play in the 30+ and 35+ age groups.
Olympic gold medallists at Masters water polo
The Masters community has many stories to tell, but water polo may be the sport to have players with the greatest pre-Masters life achievements to reveal. Indeed, going to a Masters game offers the best chances to cross the way of former Olympians.
Such is the case of Aleksandr Shidlovsky, who was gold medallist at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. He played in the men’s water polo team representing Russia and now operates as a coach.
Discover Masters World: Giorgio Levi Della Vida (ITA)
Rome-based Giorgio Levi Della Vida is a fresh face of Masters diving. He turned 25 on July 29, 2010, consequently eligible to compete for the first time at the FINA Masters World Championships, taking place in Gothenburg, Sweden, from July 27 to August 7.
His diving venture began when he was 16. He always wanted to practice the sport but his parents thought it was too “dangerous”. As a result, when he reached 16, he started looking for a club but for a rookie of his age, possibilities were limited: “There wasn’t any course for boys of my age because I was too old to get into a group and too young for Masters.”
Discover Masters World: Rene Puddifoot (GBR)
Ms. Rene Puddifoot is one kind of a lady. Not only is she the oldest diving competitor at the 13th FINA Masters World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, she also happens to be the oldest diver in action in her entire country, England. She is 88 years old – the oldest male diver is “only” 85 – and trains at the Beaumont Diving Academy in Hatfield, England.
As a child, she remembers her unfortunate experience because of her lack of team spirit: “I was always hopeless at any sort of sport at school”. Soon, she would swim mostly daily to keep fit. At 73, she found swimming was very “boring” and saw some people diving. It looked interesting and she decided to give it a try.
Portrait of a Master: Yoshiko Osaki (JPN)
Yoshiko Osaki is a great Masters swimmer who was born on March 30, 1938. She established her second-hundredth world record in the 100m freestyle, timing 1:14.58 in the 70-74 years old category at the Japan Women’s Swim Festival held at Yokohama International Swimming Complex in October last year.
Osaki celebrated her world record at Hotel Hankyu International in Osaka, Japan, on March 20, 2010. More than 250 people paid tribute to her feat by attending the event. Osaki assured that from then on, she would continue her challenge to break more world records.
Portrait of a Master: Derek Parr (GBR)
Derek Parr is a happy man, who has been able to live his passion for swimming throughout both his sporting and working life, as a Masters swimmer and sports journalist. But the road was long until reaching “excellence”: Derek had to wait until 2009, the year of his 65th birthday, to reach the peak of his career and break his first Masters World record in the 200m butterfly event.
Derek Parr discovered swimming at age seven, but at the time, he would rather play football or cricket at school. When swimming Coach Chris Jay introduced him to dolphin butterfly a few years later, however, Derek was hooked and swimming became his number one sport. In the 1960s, he swam at county and university level.
Portrait of a Master: Rolf Luedecke (GER)
As a player since 1962 and a referee since 1977, Mr. Luedecke is passionate and well-rounded water polo enthusiast. Throughout his life he played water polo at what he calls a “medium level”. Early on he participated in the German Youth Championships before playing Division 1 (Bundesliga) and then Masters competitions on a friendly level.
In 1999, his club team “Poseidon Hamburg” was looking for a new challenge besides their Hamburg-based activities and decided to participate for the first time in the German Masters Championships. “We were successful and finished as German Champions in the age group 50+. Nearly all players on the team had played together for over 30 years. Thereon we played the German Championships every year”.
Portrait of a Master: Linda Buchanan (USA)
Ms. Buchanan is a former world champion triathlete who has been playing Masters Water Polo for about 10 years now. She started for a simple reason: namely, several women she swam with formed a local women’s Masters Team. “The way they talked about it”, she says, “made it sound fun. So, I tried one practice and was hooked.”
She continues to play, however, because of the challenges water polo provides, as well as the dynamics of teamwork, which she didn’t experience as much as an individual athlete. “I play for fun, fitness, competition and friendship”, she concedes, but “learning something new is motivating and competing in polo keeps me swimming and exercising more than I might have otherwise.”
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