My journey with the Penguins began when I was looking for a good swimming club to represent at Masters swimming.
As a young girl I was brought up in Australia where I swam at all sorts of venues, from swimming pools to the sea and rivers. I also did competitive swimming there for many years for a club in Adelaide, South Australia called The Reynella ASC (now South Coast Swimming Club).
When I came to this country I wanted to continue swimming so I did some training, first on my own, and then as my fitness grew I started looking for a club. This was before the internet was widespread but I managed to get a list of masters swimming clubs in London. I phoned the number for the (then) Hammersmith Penguin Swimming Club, a Mr Ian Williams answered and the rest is history!
Ian Williams was friendly on the phone and very encouraging so I popped along with my then husband Graham to the Janet Adegoke swimming pool in West London to have a swim with other members. The people there were warm and welcoming and soon I fell in love with the Club.
I count the late Ian Williams and his daughter Tara, Louis Lemieux, the late Ron Turner, and Sarah and Johnny Wren as my mentors, some of whom went to the first gala that I participated in at Barnet Copthall pool in June 2000 where I won gold and silver medals. The way they cheered me on in my event was awesome. Another person I met for the first time was the late John ‘Shakey’ Lake. He inspired me also.
I toured the country representing West London Penguin in many events between 2000 and 2014.
I swam in all kinds of meets from the Southern Counties long and short course, Middlesex Masters, Isle of Wight Masters, British Masters long course championships and the Open short course championships, gaining a number of medals.
I had some successes at national level, all in the backstroke, winning gold in the Ladies 55-59 years 200m backstroke at the ASA National Masters Championships in 2011.
In September 2021 I saw the Barnet Copthall Sprint Meet listed on the Swim England website. After careful consideration I entered three events. My age group is now 65 to 69 years, but nothing could prepare me for the shock of how slow my times were: I swam 100m backstroke in 2:19:65, 50m backstroke in 1:06:45, and 50m freestyle in 29.51. So slow! But, bearing in mind I haven’t competed for 10 years or swum in a pool for more than five years until April 2021 when Boris Johnson said we could use the leisure centres again, perhaps the times weren’t so bad.
I met all the masters swimmers that I used to know and had a good day, and I came away with a gold, silver and bronze, so I’m still a medal-winning Penguin!
This post is part of our Penguin100 series of stories from Penguins past and present, sharing what being a member of the Club means to them as we celebrate our centenary.