Hi All

My 3 kids spent most of their formative years in Brisbane, so I have travelled over here 32 times – I know the city fairly well! This time around I am visiting Australia to walk around the local park with my lovely, innocent, young granddaughters taking turns to sit on Grampa’s shoulders. Then at 5 pm each evening, 20 minutes is spent running up and down the home corridors with the little girls screaming gleefully trying to catch “Bompa”. Calm down time, in preparation for bedtime, involves yours truly reading the latest children’s books with eager young eyes and ears listening to every word I pronounce

The trials for the Australian Swimming team to compete in the Paris Olympics are on here this week being held at the Sleeman Aquatic Centre on the other side of town. The large bus network here is second to none, so I took the opportunity to bus over to the trials on Tuesday morning – in these parts, you see so much more of the city sitting comfortably by the bus window. My first stop was the city centre where I decided to walk around a couple of immaculately clean shopping blocks bringing my thoughts back to my dream city of Harare. Many of the roads in the centre of Brisbane have been paved off with traffic being limited to just a few useful bypasses used mostly by long buses driving courteously, and timeously, between their allocated bus stops. The city centre is always bustling with folks able to wander freely between shops and restaurants.

Imagine if we could emulate this in our Sunshine City? We should all strive to make this happen in the not-too-distant future.

There are two 10-lane 50-metre swimming pools at this Streelman Aquatic complex – one outdoor that swimmers use for warming up and the main one under covers indoors along with all the latest timing and officiating technology. Most participants in this sport take time out after their event to cool down and settle the lactic acid rushing around their athletic bodies – this was done in the exterior pool. I couldn’t work out why just about all of them were using flippers to cool down. Obviously, something I am doing wrong with my daily swims.

Every day this week they have had heats in the mornings with finals at 7.30 pm. Too long for me to stick around so I just watched some of the heats. The disciplines that morning were intertwined with full-strength races taking place between those for the Paralympics – shown on the screens here as “Multi-Class”. 

In the Men’s 100m Butterfly (Multi-Class) there were 3 competitors having just 1 leg each with all ably managing to stand patiently on the starting blocks. 1 other guy with all 4 limbs severed was the only competitor in the 50m Breaststroke – he finished the distance in just over 1 minute 20 – I challenge you, readers, to match that time.

The Men’s 200m Freestyle was my favourite for the day made up of 8 heats of 10 guys each starting with the fastest guys in heat 1 – best time 1.45! the worst time was just under 2 minutes demonstrating just how competitive these participants were – all hoping to be on the plane to Paris next month.

For me it was watching the sleek, rotational gliding through the smooth waters – each swimmer reaching out that extra 6 inches twisting their bodies to make their traverse more efficient. Then there were the strong legs pumping away at full strength; the swift, perfectly timed tumble-turn at each end; noticing too how buoyant they all made themselves. I’ll be down at the local heated pool at first light tomorrow to try and emulate these youngsters. 

Diarise the Paris Olympics swimming starting 27th July- the Paralympics start a month later on 28th August with a local guy, Dave Ellis, being given a highly sought-after opportunity to officiate as “Chief Finish” for World Triathlon at the Paralympics. 

PS For those of you who feel inclined to start brushing up your French for the Olympics – “Nager Vite ” means “To swim fast”. Au Revoir. MikeG.

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