City man writes history of masters swimming

23:19, Jun 24 2014

"Swimming is a big love for me."

It was this love that spurred Invercargill man Roger Eagles to write what is believed to be the first book about the history of masters swimming.

Eagles, who is a committee member of the swimming world governing body Fina and a former New Zealand Masters Swimming president (2005-11) said writing about 40 years of fun, fitness and friendship was "a pleasure and not a task".

Masters Swimming in New Zealand 1973-2013 tracks members and extracts the most prolific recordbreakers and landmark events during each decade.

World masters started in 1970 and New Zealand caught up in 1973 after a visit from American swimmers.

International Fina members had told Eagles no book had been written about the history of the sport in any English-speaking country.


" I have been interested for a long time and knew a lot of the people involved, so I though I could do it for New Zealand."

Many of those involved with early masters were now elderly and some had died, so he felt it was important to put all their experiences in a book.

One such figure was Tom Logan, a former New Zealand Masters president and Fina member who made a "huge contribution" to the sport.

He was in favour of the book but died before Eagles had completed it.

Another influential president, Lyall Mortimer, was now ill with Parkinson's disease.

Mortimer gets a thank you in the book for his helpful comments and corrections.

"Those who started the sport were very much in favour of the book because they could see that unless someone put their hand up, it would not happen," Eagles said.

No other swimming discipline in New Zealand had put a narrative history in writing.

Aquatics, which combined all swimming disciplines, almost published a book few years ago but interest flagged and it was dropped, he said.

He hoped they would now would follow suit and revive the idea.

New Zealand Masters Swimming has between 700 and 800 affiliated members, which was reasonable for the population, he said.

However, Foveaux Masters Swimming club numbers were low, which he could not understand.

He believed it could be the result of having more lanes available at Splash Palace and evolving sports sharing members.

Those bored of traditional sport got into adventure sports, which had diverted people away from clubs, he said.

"Some people have left masters swimming but I hope they come back to us."

The Southland Times