Sidney all set for swimming

By David Ogilvie

Believe it or not, Sidney Salek is a ``refreshed'' surf-lifesaving guard at the Omanu Surf Club in the Bay of Plenty.

Sid is 83 years old, probably the oldest lifesaver in the country _ and will swim the open water race on the Whanganui River and also several pool events at the New Zealand Masters in Wanganui in February.

He's no stranger to wide open water so won't have any problems with the river race. And he knows Wanganui pretty well too _ he went to Wanganui Collegiate from 1944-48.

``My participation in the bi-annual Wanganui Masters Games has been continuous since its inception. And Collegiate school was attended from 1944-48 where points were scored for Grey House in the swimming events,'' said Salek.

``So returning to Wanganui has a special association. The atmosphere has always been relaxed and friendly with the most enjoyable socials held nightly in the Big Top!''

Open water sea swims have been his forte and include Wellington Harbour (Evan's Bay circuit), Peck Shield (late 1940s) through to several events from Kapiti to Paraparaumu, White Island to Whakatane and the 10km Motiti Island to Papamoa Beach swim.

He's competed in the Round the Mount event for 25 years and says he's ``currently struggling with the State Ocean Swim series in which I have been the oldest competitor''.

He's attended the bi-annual World Masters pool swimming championships since their inception in New Zealand in 1984, culminating with Italy in June this year _ and he's maintained top 10 status in most events.

``So I suppose you could say I'm addicted as well as being fortunate in that I am still a `refreshed' patrolling surf life guard with the Omanu Surf Club, having qualified initially at Lyall Bay in 1985.

``I'm blessed at still being able to compete, albeit at a somewhat geriatric level.''

One of the more remarkable records at Masters Games has been fashioned by the Jurassics volleyballers from Wellington.

Well, they were from Wellington, but are now starting to be scattered around as life goes its relentless way, said captain Gavin Wilson.

The Jurassics were formed from the Wellington Eagles Club in 1997. Their Los Angeles member Scott Spooner played for the club in 1991-92 and his love of that association _ and for the All Blacks _ has been noted previously in this column.

``The Jurassics won the Wanganui Masters in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009, and some of the current team also won at Wanganui with Dad's Army in 1997 and 1999,'' said Wilson.

``We took the Australasian Masters gold medal at Taupo in 2008 and the World Masters gold medal for 40-plus at Sydney in 2009. In fact, the only major masters tourney we have lost was at Wanganui in 2011.''

Wilson says the team has now moved around the country _ and the world.

``The team is well dispersed now as people's lives have moved, with the base of members still in Wellington, but others in Christchurch, New Plymouth, Auckland and, of course, the LA connection with Scott.

``We also hope to have another American coming down this year, Rob Landel, also from Los Angeles. Rob is a mate of Scott's and played with us at Sydney. These days, we only get together to play as a full team at Wanganui, although there are gatherings for major life events.

``We're getting a little older and the average age of the team is probably 50 _ but we are looking forward to pulling back the title this year.'' There's a definite close-knit thing from birth about the Marton Sapphire netball team playing in the Games.

Christine Wigglesworth and Biddy Rogers were born a day apart in the Marton Maternity Home and Rhonda Wigglesworth arrived at the same home a few months later. Christine married Rhonda's cousin, in fact, and now lives in Alexandra.

But Rhonda has still managed to build up a 20-year history with the Sapphires, said captain Judy Proctor. And that means fair old history at the Wanganui Masters for the team, which varies between 45-56 years.

``We were the top A grade team for seven straight years in our local Rangitikei Netball Competition and we have played netball and basketball together for probably the last eight Masters Games,'' said Proctor.

``If anyone wants to catch up with Marton Sapphires they know they can see us both weekends (if not more) dancing in the social tent up in front by the stage. That has always been part of the initiation into Sapphire, be prepared to dance and sing on the karaoke (and be capable at netball of course!).

``Another feat we are very proud of in our team is between the nine regulars we have 34 children and now up to seven grandchildren.''

The team also boasts a win in basketball and has also been in tennis, and Christine Wigglesworth, for one, has entered several sports this time in.

A reminder to all to check out the Forum part of he NZMG website (far right toolbar).

Each sport has its own spot, and football, for example, has a post this past Wednesday from Wanganui's sister city Toowoomba and Gordon Mills, organiser of its travelling football side.

Check it out and check some training tips posted by Simon Watson. And on the stair-racing post, just a timely reminder there are 355 stairs to the top _ and 355 stairs to the bottom!-->-->

- Wanganui Chronicle

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