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Swim club celebrates long and proud history

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 04/04/2014
Liz Coster
STRONG STROKES: Olympic swimmer Liz Coster in action. 
Liz Coster
Lauren Priestley
BIG DREAMS: Liz Coster’s swimming career started at Parnell Swimming Club.

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It's party time for Parnell Swimming Club.

The renowned club is celebrating its centenary this year with several events including a cocktail evening tonight.

As part of the celebrations the club is looking to break a world record by having 100 swimmers complete a 25 metre relay on April 13.

Olympic swimmer Liz Coster started at the club when she was 7.

Parnell was the top club in the country and it is where her passion for the sport blossomed, the Parnell woman says.

"It all started back at Parnell for me. I went and watched the Commonwealth Games in Auckland in 1990 and decided that was it. I was really little when I made the choice to become a swimmer."

The sport teaches self-discipline, work ethic, goal setting and perseverance, she says.

The lifelong friends she made are a bonus.

She rose through the ranks to compete in the Olympics, breaking New Zealand records along the way. Coster retired from competition after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

She now coaches young athletes at Diocesan School for Girls.

Swimming can be intense but it is worth it, she says.

"We were doing 30 hours a week, from 5am in the morning right from a young age. It was horrific but it was just normal.

"It's such a good sport in terms of the life lessons it teaches. It's quite brutal but it really defines you."

The Parnell club was based in Glen Innes when Coster started, after originating at the Parnell Baths in 1913. It is now run out of Sacred Heart College in Glendowie.

A lot of strong young athletes are coming through so it is an exciting time for everyone involved, Coster says.

"When I started there were so many role models in New Zealand swimming and in Parnell.

"The club is shaped by the sport and it has always been a really strong family club. It's a really exciting time for them."

Parnell Swim Club chairman Steve Traplin says 100 years is a huge milestone and the club wants to recognise the enormous contribution of members over the years.

"It's difficult for a club to survive today and the fact that we're still alive and growing after 100 years is a great achievement.

"We've had thousands of swimmers through here. It's just a real recognition of us as a club and where we are today."

Go to swimparnell.co.nz for more information.

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- East And Bays Courier

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