FINA World Masters Championships

From 2015, the FINA World Masters Championships will be held in conjunction with the FINA World Championships, taking place in Kazan (RUS) on August 5-16.

The 15th and last stand-alone edition of the FINA World Masters Championships took place in Montreal (CAN) from July 27 - August 10, 2014.

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 30 years ago, the first edition being held in 1986 in Tokyo (JPN).

Kazan 2015: FINA World Masters Championships sparkling closing ceremony

Masters

The 16th FINA World Masters Championships concluded with a spectacular musical show that took place in the FINA Water World Park in Kazan. Admission to the Park was free – all visitors could witness this sparkling event and immerse themselves into an incredible sports extravaganza.

Spectators were treated to an explosion of cultural events including songs performed in the Russian and English languages, masterful dances and acrobatic routines, thematic video clips, pyrotechnic effects and performances by best music and dance ensembles of the city and the Republic. FINA World Championships highlights and best moments were shared with the spectators  in a video clip entitled  ‘Kaleidoscope of FINA Worlds events’. 

The evening was headlined by the performance of the famous Russian pop band Ivanushki International. After some really foot-tapping hit songs, two high officials – FINA Bureau Member Dr. Mohamed Diop and Prime Minister of the Republci of Tatarstan Ildar Khalikov – took the floor to say their words of welcome.

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Kazan 2015: Kazan is gorgeous, only a mirror was missing

Masters

Australia’s Dorothy Dickey might even be regarded as a Masters “professional”. She is among the few who has attended all but one event since the FINA Masters World Championships was first staged in 1986 in Tokyo. Only Casablanca (1998) is missing from the rank– otherwise she, together with the family and team mates, organised their trip from Down Under to wherever the big meet was held.

Kazan is special of course: the first one staged together with the ‘big Worlds’ and it comes just a year after the last stand-alone edition in Montreal. But there was no doubt that Mrs. Dickey and the Doncaster Dolphins would show up. “Well, at first, when we learned the location, we said, oh nooo, aaaah, uuuuh… But it turned out to be amazing. Kazan is fantastic, yesterday we even had some shopping and it was gorgeous! The organisation is brilliant, this pool is great, though it’s a bit huge, I get lost sometimes even in these last days…

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Kazan 2015: The gentle touch of eternity

Masters

How long I will swim? My dear, I have an adequate answer for this. As long as I live, I swim. And as long as I swim, I live.”

Few can sum up the secret of living long (perhaps forever) so precisely and shortly. While it seems easy to say, Bela Banki Horvath is the living example of how to execute it. He is 95 years old, the oldest participant of this Masters World Championships – still, yesterday was fresh to complete two events in a span of three hours, swimming in the 200m breaststroke (7:29.12) first, then in the 100m back (2:32.01), setting Championships records in both.

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Kazan 2015: Diver, judge and doctor

Masters

Gerhard Bayer is changing his clothes – in a bit of a hurry. His competition is just over, but there is not too much time left to relax, to celebrate another fine performance (a medal winning one!), soon the next event starts and they need him.

In the judging chair.

The German doctor looks for a white T-shirt in his bag. “They gave me an official shirt but it didn’t fit. It was too small…” he admits. Well, to be honest, Mr. Bayer is not reminding us of the skinny Chinese divers – but one should admire him even more for his love towards diving.


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Kazan 2015: With a pacemaker in the heart, water polo is an eternal love

Masters

The Happy Hippos were not so happy this morning. No, they are not real hippopotami, they are water polo players from Hungary, this is the name of their club, reminding the team members of the founding fathers who, well, got a little bit wilder and heavier once their heydays had been over, but still wanted to play their beloved game.

So, our heroic Hippos tried to score a big margin win against Volga 45 (RUS) in the 45+ age-group in the Masters water polo tournament but they had to settle for a 12-3 victory. This is something you always had in the good old days. Counting. Goal difference, semi-final pairings… Their biggest rival in the group, the St. Petersburg Masters won 17-6 against Volga on the opening day. Then the Hungarians drew 10-10 with the Russians, so goal difference seemed to be the decisive factor in reaching the top spot in the group.

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Kazan 2015: Though injured, Minister Leonov swims his 50m free in Kazan

Masters

Tatarstan’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Vladimir Leonov came on the hard way. The rocky one. Actually, he went through something similar what Japan’s star swimmer Kosuke Hagino experienced a couple of months ago.

Mr. Leonov biked in the countryside, around Kazan and had a bad fall. He broke his lower arm and injured his legs – like Hagino, who were unable to compete in Kazan – but still, on Wednesday, when swimmers of heat 42 (age group: 35-39) in the 50m free were called at the FINA World Masters Championships, he marched from the last call room to the pool deck.

He set his goggles, his cap, the starting block on Lane 6, took his marks, then – go! Though it was inevitable that he is off his peak form – he wore a bandage on his right arm – he covered the distance in 28.85 seconds, trying to be on full speed. Once out of the pool, the 38 year-old Minister might find it harder to walk back to the locker room than swimming a pool length, but as a former water polo player, Mr. Leonov has surely got used to bearing pain.


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Kazan 2015: Ibone (85): “Before the dives I’m still nervous”

Masters

If you have household names in Masters diving, Ibone Belausteguigoitia is definitely one of them: she earned more than 30 gold medals at Masters Worlds and more than 130 titles in the US Masters circuit.

Though always being a ‘threat’ for announcers of any given competitions – just try to pronounce her name, clearly showing her Basque origins as she was born in Bilbao, Spain –, she is one of the most popular participants of the events. She’s just entered the 85-89 age group – here she is the oldest member of the women’s diving field. But she is still in great shape, or rather: she is in amazing shape!

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Kazan 2015: The Indian star of the diving meet

Masters

Rajendrakumar Kahnpade didn’t have too much practice before the competition. In fact, he arrived to Kazan just last evening, today he came to the pool, had a couple of jumps, then stepped up to the 1m springboard to perform his dives.

Which he learns from a paper, before each attempt.

Well, it’s rather a kind of repetition for the 62 years old. He had few competitions in the past, however, just to be on the safe side, he carefully studies that sheet from time to time. It’s the official list of dives. And it’s good to have them at hand, since Mr. Kahnpade dives only in competitions, more precisely, solely at the FINA World Masters Championships. Between them – no diving. Not a single session. Or dive. “We don’t have any facilities where I can train” he explains.


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Kazan 2015: Rather swim than walk

Masters

While participants of the men’s breaststroke races left the last call room as the heats followed each other in quick succession – 30 heats were held alone in this event! – a nice, old gentleman was sitting at the exit. His walking stick was just leant to the chair he got, and he silently waited for the end of the competition. Well, in his age (85) and with his minor disability, Peter Couttie found it better to get the closest possible to the pool deck, since he was called soon to the victory ceremony of the 100m free event. And if you travel to Kazan from the remote Australia, one thing is for sure: you simply cannot miss your big occasion when you receive your gold medal.

The new world champion is coming from the south western side of the continent, he did running in his heydays, then took on triathlon where was admitted to swimming. “There was no one in my hometown who would teach me swimming” he says. “So I did it on my own. Read books, tried some techniques. It worked somehow.”

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Kazan 2015: And here come the Masters

Masters

Though the FINA World Championships are over in Kazan, the designated venues are still busy with competitions of the aquatic disciplines. As a novelty, the FINA World Masters Championships are held together with the “big event” – swimming, diving and water polo competitions are staged immediately after the conclusion of the elite champs, while open water and synchro have already been finished.

Two “real” World Championships venues accommodate the Masters participants: one was the magnificent open water course in the Kazanka River (the other is the diving facility in the Aquatic Palace). The usual 3km race saw hundreds of participants, the oldest ones represented Russia, Stanislav Viazovskii and Igor Brovin belonged to the 80-84 years old age group – and in fact they clocked even better times than the winner in the 75-79 years old category! (Viazovskii covered the course in 1:08.22.8 hours.)

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