She's not gay, but when Kirsten Cameron saw the chance to compete on the world stage at the Asia Pacific Out Games, she leapt at the chance.
The results speak for themselves – the 38-year-old marketing consultant has smashed three world masters swimming records this week.
Cameron has been swimming competitively only since she was 30, and first represented New Zealand at a masters swimming champs in 2006. This week she has broken global records for her 35-to-39 age group in the 400-metre, 800m and 1500m events.
In yesterday's 1500m event she shaved nine seconds off the former record, with a time of 17 minutes, 24.75 seconds.
Cameron is straight, with a partner of six years, but has several gay friends and said the thought of competing in the "gay games" didn't faze her in the slightest.
The tournament is sanctioned as an official masters meet by Fina, the international governing body of swimming.
While all her close friends had been supportive, some people had questioned why she would want to compete in a gay and lesbian-centred event. "When I was telling people, it was interesting the reactions I got. There's still a lot of prejudice out there – I was quite surprised.
"It's gay and lesbian targeted but anyone can enter, and they were really happy to have me."
Cameron said that, although there were other straight competitors at the games, they were definitely a minority.
"In this meet, there weren't that many, but when you get to the World Out Games, it's pretty much 50-50."
Out Games co-chairman David Hindley said Cameron's record-breaking week was "absolutely astonishing".
"One of the main things about the Out Games is that it's inclusive."
Mr Hindley said organisers had ensured sporting events were sanctioned by official standards wherever possible.
Out Games continue this week, with a human rights conference, sports, art exhibitions and other cultural events.
- The Dominion Post
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