Distinguished career still thriving

LOCAL LEGEND: Lyn Sutherland.
LOCAL LEGEND: Lyn Sutherland.

Swimming administration and officialdom has taken enthusiast Lyn Sutherland, of Invercargill, to many corners of the globe, but her love and support of the sport shows no signs of waning.

"It is my wish to keep going for a few years yet," the mother of three and life member of Swimming Southland said.

A product of the Orca club, she has scaled many heights in the sport, including the past 12 years as a Swimming New Zealand technical advisory committee member and, as a referee, gained Fina accreditation in January 2009.

More importantly, she has discharged many major responsibilities and international appointments as a technical official and team manager, including as a judge to the 2012 Fina World Masters in Riccione, Italy, and the 2010 Fina World Short-course Championships in Dubai.

Sutherland also pointed out the role of Invercargill lawyer Roger Eagles serving on the Fina World Masters committee.

It was difficult to go past seeing Southland's own Natalie Wiegersma competing at the 2012 London Olympics as her greatest thrill as a Southlander.

A local highlight of her career was winning the 2012-2013 Sport Southland Services to Sport Award and 2002 Southland Sports Administrator of the Year recognition.

On the broader front, twice being a recipient of the Prime Minister's Scholarship to support her development as a technical official served to gauge the prominence she has attained.

"I believe the future of swimming in Southland is assured, largely because of the commitment and enthusiasm of dedicated supporters," she said.

"Over the years, it has meant a lot of hard work but nothing I have regretted. One of the most rewarding parts has been my experience as a team manager in the early days at national and international level in Japan and Australia."

Also, it was extremely satisfying to be involved with the Swimming With Disability (SWD) movement as a technical official and helping with local Special Olympics swimming events.

"That is a very rewarding part of my overall involvement, none of which could have been achieved without the loyal and meaningful support of my husband, Wayne."

She was adamant the Invercargill Licensing Trust has not received the accolades it richly deserved. The ILT's generosity enabled Swimming Southland to subsidise the role of a paid administrator (Lisa Hansen) and a development officer (Lisa Pankhurst) and also a paid self-employed coach, presently Jeremy Duncan.

The funding support of the Community Trust of Southland was also essential to Swimming Southland to enable the provision of coaching and development support to all Southland swimming clubs.

From her family perspective, Sutherland said the achievements of children Loren, Hayden and Nicola up to national level served as a catalyst to her worldwide work in administration.

Brought up on the Isla Bank farm of her parents Jim and Margaret Teviotdale, she learnt to swim in the outdoor pool at Otautau.

"The chilly water temperature was a great incentive to get to the other side as quickly as possible, but without much style."

Her career as an administrator and official was kickstarted in 1991 when she joined the Orca club committee. In 1993, when elected to the Swimming Southland management committee, she was responsible for staging events within Southland.

Elizabeth Tapper and Graeme Mulligan were guiding lights.

She stood down in 2010 after 17 years, but continued as chief referee.

Others who had a big influence and set a fine example of hard work and commitment to the sport included present Swimming Southland patron John Sutton and his wife, Margaret, the late Russell Cushen and Ron Young, Robyn Jackson, Alan Mattieson, Ethyl Naylor and Joy McVicar.

Encouraging emerging personnel to later do their bit in officialdom now served as her main focus.

Her role as a member of Swimming NZ's technical panel included the training, mentoring and assessment of officials through to international standard.

Swimming NZ staged five annual national championships meets in the pool.

The national division two championships were held recently in Invercargill, Sutherland being the meet director liaising with Swimming NZ and Swimming Southland.

"Splash Palace is a very fine facility for age-group championships, where there are less than 400 competitors. Anything above that number creates space issues with cramped quarters around the pool. We [Swimming Southland] are fortunate to have a very good relationship with Splash Palace, which helps in overcoming this issue," she said.

"However, Splash Palace is fine for South Island championships and New Zealand division two competition."

A major fixture at Splash Palace necessitated at least 45 officials, she said.

That was no problem at national division two level in Invercargill, whereas a full complement was not always possible at the open championships in Auckland.

"Swimming New Zealand would like to use Splash Palace more often, but is limited by the lack of space around the fringes."

For Sutherland, the true heroes of her sport were "the athletes and coaches who put in the countless hours at the pool training often at hours when the rest of us are still in our beds".

The Southland Times