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Address on the occasion of the opening of the AUSSI Masters National Swimming Competition.

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6 APRIL 2006

• Mr Greg Gourley, President, AUSSI Masters Swimming, ACT Branch, representing the National President • State Branch Presidents • Mr Craig Allatt, Chair, Organising Committee, and Meet Director • Ladies and gentlemen Marlena and I are delighted to be here this morning for the AUSSI Masters 31st National Swim. I accepted the invitation to this opening because I am very interested in healthy sports participation for adult Australians.   Swimming is one of the oldest human skills. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato, once declared that anyone who could not swim lacked a proper education. Ancient Egyptian princes were obligated to learn to swim as a part of their education plan. And in Greek antiquity, no one could hold 'high office' without the proof of swimming skills.  So it seems you are in very good company.   It's hard to beat swimming when it comes to a sport that strengthens the body, regulates breathing, stimulates circulation, puts no stress on the joints…..and soothes the mind.   This competition celebrates and promotes swimming as a very healthy and enjoyable sport in which all can participate. Sport has the potential to enrich the lives of all people. No one, regardless of age or background should feel that they are excluded from the benefits of physical activity. And your annual competition is a good example of that to the wider community.   Swimming is generally considered to be one of the best forms of physical exercise for developing and maintaining high levels of physical fitness. Indeed more than 2.6 million Australians, aged 15 to 65 plus, swim regularly, and I'm sure they would agree.   As to competitive swimming, excluding the AUSSI Masters, there are more than 93,000 Australians registered with 957 swimming clubs nationwide. More than 68 per cent of these swimmers are regular competitors.   It is remarkable that our island continent of just over 20.4 million people - ranked 52nd in the world by population - has produced many of the greatest and most successful swimmers known. Indeed swimming has served as a medium for enhancing our national status and international reputation - Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games records have proven the point.   Ladies and gentlemen. The AUSSI Masters website matter-of-factly defines the organisation as Australia-wide, non-profit, and for adult swimmers, with over 7,000 members.   This understates its diverse activities.   For example, the state branches run regular training sessions, local meets, and state championships, and

nationally publish coaching and referee manuals. In all AUSSI Masters is supported by 1,000 accredited

officials.   Well known names in AUSSI Masters include Shane Gould, Olympic gold medalist who returned to Masters Swimming in her 40s with great success, breaking many national records.   And there are life members including Ivan Wingate, Past President and first Executive Director of AUSSI Masters who has been involved at the national level for 20 years, and Gary Stutsel (, founding member and national secretary of AUSSI Masters when it formed in 1975. Gary has been a regular swimmer since then, a National Board member for several years, and currently is head of the National Technical Committee.   And so to this premier 'AUSSI' carnival, which is not only about competition, although that is its emphasis. It is also about maintaining pride in physical fitness and enjoying the pleasure of swimming. AUSSI Masters does not discriminate by age or gender. Indeed AUSSI has had competition in the 90 to 94 age group, but is yet to crack the 100-104 bracket.   All events are seeded by the times members submit on their entry forms. Thus in any one heat, all competitors will be approximately the same standard. It's a wonderfully innovative and fair way of running a competition.   May I conclude by thanking everyone involved in this 2006 Competition for their dedicated hard work and enthusiasm. Without the efforts of an army of volunteers (more than one hundred behind-the-scenes here), the AUSSI Masters would not be such a 'stand-out' on the national sporting calendar, or be as enjoyable and as stimulating for participants.   And congratulations to the staff of the Australian Institute of Sport who run this centre to world class standard.   Ladies and gentlemen. Ours is the age of mind blowing technology. Yet not much can compare to the simple thrill of human beings engaging in healthy sporting competition in one of Australia's most cherished, admired and exciting sports - swimming.   And thus it is my very great pleasure to now declare the AUSSI Masters 31st National Swim officially open.