Rowena Duncum's journey to the 2017 World Masters Games (WMG) in Auckland is probably not too dissimilar to many.

The 30-year-old Whanganui-born radio personality now living and working in the Waikato, makes a return to the swimming pool where her love of sport began at a relatively young age.

From an age group perspective, swimming has the youngest participation age group of any of the 28 sports at the WMG running next year in April.

Her story began when she was 9 and her life changed.


"Not only did I instantly go from being an only child to being part of a massive family, but my entire world became broader with trips around the North Island most weekends, to a handful of journeys to the South Island and Australia," Duncum recalled.

"I still identify a lot of places by whether their pool is short or long course, indoors or outdoors or whether the roof leaks.

"But then real life came along, and I worked overseas, then got stuck on a dairy farm, then in an office, and swimming became more of a distant, fond memory with social get togethers with swimming family a couple of times a year."

Duncum and her sporting mates always competed at the New Zealand Masters Games in her home town of Whanganui.

Whanganui owns the NZMG franchise running it every two years at home and farming out the alternate year to Dunedin. Next year, the NZMG runs on February 3-12, so can actually be used as a training run for the WMG in April in Auckland.

"We always competed in Whanganui, so when we heard WMG was coming to our island, we rallied the troops and some of them parents these days have even taken time off. We might be older now and in our 20s and 30s, but Auckland we are coming for you," Duncum warned.

Her enthusiasm has even sparked her 82-year-old grandfather Jim Jones to reignite his athletics career.

Jones lives in Opotiki in the Bay Of Plenty and used to be a regular at masters competition before fully retiring.

But Duncum said her grandfather is keen to lace up the track shoes again and return to the fray next year.

World Masters Games 2017 is more than a competition - it's a 10-day festival of activity that celebrates the lifelong connection people have to competitive and social sport.

Outside the field of play, there's the chance to soak up the vibe at the official Games Entertainment Hub at Queens Wharf in the heart of Auckland City. The hub will feature a diverse entertainment programme for participants and the public, stretching from arts and cultural displays, to food and wine, to comedy and music.

The festivities on the wharf will commence with a weekend of welcome from Saturday, April 22 and conclude with the games closing ceremony on Sunday, April 30.