Posted on Friday 8th July, 2022

A Swimming Golden Jubilee

When it comes to longevity is a sport there are not too many that can match Dave Mackay’s 50 consecutive years as a registered and competing swimmer. From an age-grouper, through Open level and on to Masters, Dave has never missed a year for half a century.

He remembers vividly the first steps (or strokes) to his long career as a swimmer. It was in Toowoomba when he began learn-to-swim lessons at the Milne Bay pool before his father, Colin, helped establish the Harristown State Primary School Swimming Club in 1971.

Since then, he’s swum with many clubs including Murgon, Toowoomba Olympic, Chandler, Cairns, Yeronga Park and Miami.  As a junior Dave was very competitive and even won the Queensland 16 years 50 metre Breaststroke title in record time, and finished second in the Open. The following year in 1977, he was a surprise winner of the State Open 50 metre freestyle title.

Dave kept up his competition at Open level into his mid-20s, as you could not race in both Open and master’s (25 years +) until you were 27 years old. The amateur code deemed masters as professionals! But the rule was eventually dropped, and he joined the Miami Masters Club in 1986.

Highlights since then have included mentions in the FINA World Masters Top 10 (relays). Top podium finishes have included claiming silver in the 200 years Medley Relay at the Perth World Championships in 2009.  In World Masters Games he won Bronze in the 50 breaststroke, and represented Australia at 6 World Triathlon Championships in his 50s.

As well as Miami, Masters clubs that Dave has been a member of include the Toowoomba Tadpoles, Brisbane Southside, Newcastle Hunter and Gold Coast. In the 1990s he was a board member of QMS, including a year as President.

You don’t find Dave too far from a pool most days of the week. The retired High School teacher is a Gold Coast City Council Lifeguard.   In this role, he’s often asked to give lap-swimmers tips on technique, which he’s only too happy to oblige. For the past 30 years he’s coached on-and-off and is currently accredited as an Advanced Coach through Swimming Australia.

Now 62, Dave continues to train multiple times a week. These days he coaches himself, allowing him time to train at any time of the day. However, 50 years of training has taken its toll on his shoulders with both having undergone reconstructions. And, while mileage is down for self-preservation, enthusiasm for the sport he loves hasn’t waned. This year he managed to pick up a Gold, Silver and Bronze medal at the Australian Championships in Sydney.

So, is the end in sight? Highly unlikely. While there’s no specific goals being set these days, just the health benefits and the feel of the water will keep Dave going for years, if not decades ahead.

1977 Qld Open 50m Freestyle Medal Presentation. Finishing Just Ahead Of Future Olympian Paul Moorfoot.


Dave, The Lifeguard, Keeping An Eye On Fellow Gold Coast Masters Swimmers Clive Robinson and Alan Carlisle


2022 Aust Masters Swimming Championships, Sydney