A Triple Treat in Tassie

30 March 2021
Masters world record holders

A trio of world records were rewritten in Hobart last month at the 37th Masters Tasmania Summer Swimming Championships.


Jennie Bucknell (Powerpoints Masters Swimming Club) shaved 0.17 off the world record time in the 55-59-year-old 50m freestyle to set a new 28.29 benchmark.


The 55-year-old, who famously competed in the 2012 Australian Swimming Trials for the London Olympic Games, said she wasn’t expecting to set a record time after a sluggish stint in the pool the previous day.


“I did 50 fly the day before, but it wasn't a very good race,” she admitted. 


“I then felt a bit tired on Sunday (for the freestyle race) in the warm-up pool, so I wasn't really expecting that much. But then it all just came together.


“I just remembered to do everything. Sometimes if I don't kick hard enough, I won't do a very good time, but I remembered to kick and everything came together, so it was good.


“I knew what the time was (that I had to beat). I wasn't really expecting to do it on the weekend. It was just kind of more of a practice.”


Sal Cuming and Jennie Bucknell
World record holder Jennie Bucknell (right) with masters swimmer Sal Cuming.

Bucknell was left speechless when she received a call from four-time Olympic gold medallist and Swimming Australia President, Kieren Perkins. Although she initially suspected it was all a setup.


“I actually thought it was a joke! I thought it was one of my friends being a smarty pants,” she said. 


“But then I realised that it actually was Kieren, so that was very nice. He congratulated me for my ‘awesome’ time.”


The records continued to fall in the men’s competition where 85-year-old John Cocks set two new world records of his own.


The Malvern Marlins swimmer lowered the 200m individual medley bar to a 3:38.94 in the 85-89-year-old age bracket before smashing the 400m individual medley record by a lengthy 25 seconds.


He completed the 400m in just 7:56.23, knocking over a record which remained untouched for over 10 years.


National Recorder for Masters Swimming, Pauline Samson, witnessed Cocks break the seven-minute barrier. She described how it left onlookers standing as they cheered the veteran swimmer home.


“We were waiting at the end of the pool deck,” Samson revealed. “Our meet director had the microphone in his hand, and as he was coming in, we started clapping. 


“We sort of knew that he had a chance at doing this world record. The record was an 8:21 and he did a 7:56. That's quite a lot. So that record will stand now probably for quite a while.”


Samson said she projected to see both Bucknell and Cocks come close to reaching record pace as the powerful duo advanced to their new respective age groups this year.


“We sort of have an expectation that there are some swimmers, we call them our ‘usual suspects’, they're not unexpected world records (which they may break),” Samson said. “You sort of know that there are certain ones who will possibly break the world records (as they progress in age).”


“I was made aware that John and Jenny were planning on having a go at the world records, and we just kept an eye on the clock. I had also looked at those records prior to them swimming.


“We were aware that they possibly could break the world record, so it was anticipated.”


Bucknell, who has spent 15 years competing in Masters Swimming, isn’t ruling out further improving her freestyle world record when she contests the Masters Swimming Victorian Long Course Championships later this month.


“I would like to keep going at it for sure, and it's nice to have something to aim for,” she said.


“I’ve gone up into a new age group, which is what made it possible. 


“It was a goal of mine, but now I've done it. I want to go faster at our states which are in April.”

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