Brisbane Southside Masters in Hyōgo
On 4 August 2019, a team of nine swimmers from Brisbane Southside Masters (BSM) competed in the 8th Hyōgo Prefecture Masters Swimming Tournament in Kobe, Japan.
The team attended as guests of the Kobe Swimming Association (KSA), who established a ‘sister club’ relationship with BSM several years ago, with members of KSA training with BSM when visiting Brisbane.
For most of the BSM team, it was the first visit to Japan and we unanimously agreed it was a fantastic destination that we would love to experience again for a longer holiday. But first, the competition…
The tournament was held at Kobe’s “Port Island Sports Centre”, a substantial complex featuring an 8-lane, 50m heated pool for the competition. The 50m pool is only open in summer as it is converted into a 60m x 30m international standard skating rink in winter. Impressively, the ice rink is assembled over the top of the main pool. There is also a 25m heated pool in the complex that is open all year.
This pool is the venue for the swimming events of the 2021 World Masters Games.
While we lacked Japanese language skills, apart from a few basic phrases, we were warmly welcomed by all participants and officials at the Meet. Respect is clearly an important part of the Japanese culture and swimmers would bow respectfully to the timekeepers and spectators prior to each heat. Before the Meet started, our team members and four Masters swimmers from New Zealand (who were also guests of Kobe Swimming Association) were asked to stand and we were officially greeted as ‘International’ competitors and roundly applauded. Quite a welcome!
The tournament had an interesting program compared to what we are used to in Australian Masters Swimming, with a maximum of three individual events, being 50m and 100m events in all four strokes and a 200m IM event. There were also events for Men’s, Women’s, and Mixed, 4 x 50m relays in both freestyle and medley. A total of 565 Masters swimmers competed on the day.
The Meet was very well run with plenty of officials and volunteers helping with marshalling, check starting and timekeeping. The electronic timekeeping/recording was impressive with the gold medals, record certificates and individual certificates printed and available for collection immediately after the conclusion of events.
Our team performed well in the competition with age group category wins in both the Women’s Freestyle and Medley relays as well as nine individual gold medals and three Meet records (two for Elaine Sng and one for Nicole Taylor).
Fortunately, we had a few days either side of the Meet to do some sightseeing in Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto where we enjoyed the culture, customs and traditions. There was so much to see and do. We crammed a lot in to those three and half days and would have enjoyed spending a lot more time there.
Overall, it was an unforgettable experience and the BSM team is very grateful to the Kobe Swimming Association for inviting the BSM Team, supporting our participation in the Meet and for being wonderful hosts.
We left Japan highly motivated to train hard and return in 2021 to compete at the World Masters Games Kansai.
Many thanks to Peter Duell and the BSM Team for this report.