FINA World Masters Championships
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).
Starting in 2015, the FINA World Masters Championships will be held in conjunction with the FINA World Championships, taking place in Kazan (RUS).
Discover Masters World: Lucia Molnarova & Veronika Strapekova (SVK)
One of these 13th FINA Masters World Championships’ latest sensations was revealed with Slovakia making its first appearance in the Team and Combination events at world level. Overall, the Slovakian ‘mermaids’ proved themselves tremendous performers, picking up three golds in Solo (swum by Lucia Molnarova), Team and Combination and one silver medal in Duet (swum by Lucia and Veronika Strapekova) in Gothenburg (SWE).
Lucia, 26, and Veronika, 32, who both swim for the Iuventa Bratislava in Slovakia, explain what lies behind their success: “Some teammates have swum at very high level”, says Veronika, who represented Slovakia at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. As to Lucia, she swam at Open level until 2006.
Discover Masters World: Mayumi Ochiai (JPN)
Finding a pool nearby in Japan is quite a challenge and Mayumi Ochiai is a case in point. Living in the crowded centre of Tokyo, the 28-year-old takes half an hour in her car to get to the pool where she practices synchronised swimming twice a week, between two and four hours, with her coach.
But distance is no obstacle for Mayumi, who came all the way to Gothenburg (SWE) to compete and enjoy her third World Masters experience, after Stanford (USA) in 2006 and Perth (AUS) in 2008.
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.
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