Onto the Next Stage of Your Swimming Career – Past Our Best – Never !
For a number of years, pre-1970s, one or two national governing bodies provided competitive opportunities for those “past their best”.
In swimming, the idea of providing competitions for “veterans” started in the United States, the Americans called it “Masters Swimming” and everyone over 25 is eligible.
Competitions are arranged for swimmers aged 25-30, 30-35 etc. in 5 yearly increments up to 70 years and over and it was only in the mid-1970s that Masters Swimming in Britain developed a following.
It appears that the the initial impetus came from commercial organisations, wanting to obtain some television exposure for products.
Several sponsored Masters Tournaments were held in 1979. There was one in Gateshead, one in Dublin and one in Greenock, which the sponsor asked Inverclyde District Council to organise.
The Greenock Meet aroused a lot of interest amongst swimmers and showed the S.A.S.A. that there was a considerable demand for Masters Swimming and in addition, it was the only Scottish swimming event televised in 1979 and consequently it appeared to be a potential magnet for sponsors.
The Association responded by organising the first Scottish Masters Championships in 1980 and the event was open to both amateurs – if they were not engaged in competitive training or amateur competition – and professionals.
Television coverage and sponsorship was guaranteed by the inclusion of an 110 yards breast stroke event between Duncan Goodhew (England), Walter Kusch (W. Germany), Nobutaka Taguchi (Japan) and Scotland’s David Wilkie.
The second Championships were held in Ayr in 1982 and have been held annually since. District Championships started in the West and Midlands in 1986, the same year that S.A.S.A. introduced the Long Course Championships.
In the 1980s, some Clubs actively promoted Masters swimming, of which Motherwell was the most prominent. After an intensive publicity campaign in 1983, it attracted over 45 swimmers who became known as the “Motherwell Masters”. Under the guidance of Gordon Coleman, it was developed into one of the best clubs in Europe.
At the A.S.A. Master Championships in 1985, Motherwell swimmers won 12 individual titles and in the same year at the first World Masters Games in Toronto, they collected one gold and four individual silver medals.
At an international level, the most significant development happened in 1985, when F.I.N.A. asked governing bodies throughout the world to recognise “Masters” swimming.
The various national competitions have encouraged swimmers to stay fit, allowed them to compete “just for the fun of it” and provided them to “get together” with friends for a good “blether”.