Alison Sakurovs represented Merrylands at the FINA World Masters Championships from 7-16 June. Alison is the club's first swimmer to compete at the Championships.

Following is Alison's diary from the Championships...


Day 1 - Thursday, 7th June
We checked in at the hotel, 1940s style and very nice. Walked to the pool and registered, the buzz around the pool was pretty amazing. We watched the men's 45-49 Water Polo for a bit - USA vs Russia, and then watched some old ladies dive (aka fall into the pool). The blocks at the pool look really strange; I definitely have to practice as from a distance I have no idea how to get up on them!!

The Opening ceremony is tomorrow night, which is apparently a street parade where you march with your country, should be good!

Having an early night tonight, mum and I went out for pizza and beers (I didn't have any but mum had 2) and now ready to crash at 8pm.


Day 2 - Friday, 8th June - Training
Had our first breakfast at the hotel, mmm the cakes were awesome! Nah, just had cereal and yogurt, and salad for lunch today - being good until after the swimming (they have an outdoor bar set up at the pool...).

Went for a walk today too to find where the open water swim started and looked at shops. It’s currently raining so might just train tomorrow instead of today.

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We didn't make it to the pool to train. From what I heard I'm glad I didn't. Apparently it was chockers and everyone was swimming over each other. It was the first day the pool was open to the swimmers, and only from 3-7 pm. I did 18 laps of the hotel pool instead, which we have approximated to be 22 metres long. I couldn't turn and there is a ledge all around but felt good to stretch out in the water given I had spent 27 hours on a plane - the first 4 laps felt awful!!

Well we're off to the opening ceremony, wearing full Merrylands gear!


Day 3 - Saturday, 9th June - Training
Went to the pool to train today. Did my warm up, managed to do 400m free warm up, 4x50 with 25 Sprint, 25 easy (distance varied pending people in the way and on no time in particular as there was no clock and I had to find a gap anyway) 4 x 15 starts, don't like the blocks but oh well, 200 swim down then tried to do the efficiency test but too many people so did another 200 free then got out.

Swam in my new swimmers, I love them! Off to lunch now, pretty much all the places sell ice cream or pizza!

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Today we went shopping and I bought some goodies.

We went to a gelati bar which had a 40 page menu of desserts... (that's right FORTY). I was good and I had a fruit salad. (Although it was coated in sugar syrup mmmm).

Saturday night is party night and all the Italians are glammed up (read not wearing much) but I'm going to crash out in bed.

Been bumping into a few Australians that I have recognised from other meets I have swum at and it has been good to catch up and swap stories.

Not sure what time I should get to the pool on Monday. I have emailed Peter to see if he can work out how long the first event will go for? Trying to do it all off my phone with limited access is proving to be difficult.


Day 4 - Sunday, 10th June
Got my own virtual swimming coach! Peter sent through the event times. From the timeline it looks like day 2 and 3 are going to be looonnnggg days!

Did a lazy 500m or so before breakfast. Only one in the pool so I had a few spectators as the veranda where breakfast is served overlooked the pool.

Mum and I took the bus to Rimini today, it was a Roman settlement and there was a lot of interesting buildings, with medieval buildings too. Popped into a medieval church for a sticky beak, they were having mass in Italian (obviously) so we didn't stay long.

Just got back to the hotel for what will be a lazy afternoon to get ready for tomorrow.

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Watching the Formula One, and flicking between that and the UEFA CUP, plenty of Italians out watching the game against Spain. Mum and I were invited out to drinks by two friendly Italians too...

Going to go do my stretches before bed tonight and email Peter to check if there is anything else I should know or should be doing.

Bumped into Stuart Ellicott from my old club Hornsby today, he still isn’t happy that I have gone to the “other side” but we had a good catch up.


Day 5 - Monday, 11th June - 100m Freestyle
Oh my goodness!

There were a billion people there today, no lie, a billion. I counted every one myself!

So, here's how today went:

Got the shuttle to the pool and then tried to find a spot to sit and walked around for ages as the grandstand was chokers, the grass was chockers, the chairs were etc etc...

So eventually found a spot on the grass.

Did a warm up, 400 free with occasional breaststroke as trying to avoid people, then tried to do the 4x50s but couldn't as there were so many people in the pool so did sporadic 10m of sprints when I could get through. Then another 200 metres afterwards. Then got changed back into my clothes and sat and waited...and waited...and got hot, and got sore so wandered around watching races and synchronized swimmers doing their warm up which is pretty cool - I think I have new found respect for them!

Anyway, so the marshalling was efficient except for standing in the sun so everyone was a bit overheated before their races. Italians don’t seem to believe in shade or slip, slop, slap for that matter!
Race was ok, dive was good, first 50 was great, turned in 31.91 I think and turned second but then with 25 to go I felt AWFUL and the last 10m I died! 1.08.56 I think and ended up 5th in my heat which I guess is ok considering the flight and lack of preparation.

I had massive jelly legs after, did about 300m warm down then walked back to the hotel, had early dinner, then best gelati ever (pear) then now having a quiet one.

I think I would have really liked someone there with me today, either as coach or team mate, it was all a bit overwhelming!

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Oh just saw the results, came 74th.. would have come 53rd if I swam to my time :S

Going to check with Peter, but I reckon it's better to warm up in the hotel pool (22m with no people but hard to turn) rather than in the 25m pool at the centre which is full of people.

Day 6 - Tuesday, 12th June - 200m Freestyle, 50m Butterfly
Oooh report back to Ian, finally had a sighting of... the Speetster! Snobbed me as usual. Ok so maybe I did that thing where I stare off vaguely into the distance, not knowing I'm staring at someone and it happened to be her so maybe she thinks I snob her too!

I had my 200 Freestyle today!

So happy with my splits, don't care that it was slower than nationals but I'm just over the moon about my splits and how they compare to nationals:

34.49
1.14.10 (39.61) only 0.01 slower!
1.54.62 (40.52)
2.35.15 (40.53)

Was coming 2nd for the first 100 then finished 3rd. I was really happy with how I swam and apparently it looked fantastic (mum's non biased motherly opinion). EXCEPT: my 3rd turn was an absolute shocker! Like I'm talking if my coach saw it, it deserved a slap and a good talking to from him! I was so puffed I took an extra breath before the turn so came out wrong, didn't get my feet evenly on the wall, took ages to realign and still came off semi crooked.

So in a way I'm kinda happy because if my turn went well I'm pretty sure it would have been at least a second faster (yes, that's how bad it was)... then again, it could have been good to have a breather haha. Probably had time for a tea and a biscuit too ;)

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Well I'm back at the hotel now.

They changed the heat from 72 to 70 for my fly but I was still in lane 1 so not sure what happened there. Lucky I always walk down with plenty of time.

Start felt good but died with 20 to go. Still managed 35.92 but qualifying was 35.64. I had a look at the results and if my calculations are correct I'm the 2nd placed non qualifier.So let's just pretend that 35.64 was the break time, then I actually came 2nd! Wooooo! Haha.

The warm down felt really good actually so I'm looking forward to the 50m Freestyle tomorrow. Given the results of the fly though I'm undecided whether I will do the 100m. I guess it depends on how long I have to wait around too.


Day 7 - Wednesday, 13th June - 50m Freestyle
So hot!

The results board crashed 2 heats before mine, so I didn't see when I finished the race, then they didn't get posted by the time I left.

Just got back to the hotel and looked it up, 31.03. A bit disappointed with that but my arms felt heavy in the race. Felt relaxed before it but a bit scatterbrained during the race. So I don't know.

I'm going to pull out of the fly as I didn't actually qualify, I shouldn't be doing it. I know everyone else does, but I don’t think it’s fair.

Time for a celebratory gelato I think! Or nutella crepes, been hanging out all week for them!

So many campervans in the car park, people getting massages and drinking wine in them! Took a photo for Ian for the Ocean Swim Team :)


Day 8 - Thursday, 14th June
Peter sent a bunch of Open Water information through. I'm going to read it all after dinner tonight.

I'm looking forward to the swim, apart from it being in the hottest part of the day! The water is F L A T which is lucky but I'm just worried about over heating or something. Oh well, should be ok if I prepare well.

Today we took the bus to San Marino which is actually a different country to Italy. It was pretty amazing.

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Just got back from dinner, I had home-made ravioli with tomatoes and basil, was amazing!

Tomorrow we are going to walk up to where the Open Water Swim will be held. We found it the other day but they hadn't set anything up yet. Hopefully it will be clearer tomorrow. I read Peter's Open Water information. I read it with mum too so she knows what to expect. I guess if I can't find a slushie a post race gelato would have to do? :)


Day 9 - Friday, 15th June

Back from the Open Water venue. It looks pretty flat but there is a definite current coming into shore. They buoys weren't out so I just swam about 200m out (after walking about 100!! It's so shallow!) Then turned around and spotted mum and practised swimming to her. The water is clean but very salty and tastes different; the water is cool but not too cold. I wore my black goggles and they didn't leak so I think I will stick with them. If they leak during the race I could probably stand up and fix them! Haha.

Had lunch at a nice restaurant we found. The waiter proposed to me, but I declined!

Off to have a swim in the hotel pool (read: float around and work on my tan).


Day 10 - Saturday, 16th June
I'm so so happy! Great swim, stoked with my time!

Off to find a greasy hamburger joint.

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It felt weird doing an ocean swim without my team; swimming along knowing that they are swimming somewhere in front or behind me, or the post race debrief and greasy burger feed.

The race was good, they were organised in the marshalling area and gave you a bag to put your stuff in and wrote your number all over you. (Currently lying in bed on a towel so I don't get black ink on the sheets). Then they gave a prerace briefing and the guy was pretty funny.

I started on the right hand side, and was winning for the first 200m until I realised I had 2.8k to go and slowed down haha. A pack formed in front and behind me. I basically swam the whole thing by myself. Oh except for an annoying Italian woman! I'm glad Peter sent me the rules and explained about who has right of way, she was just in front of me early on and swam across me so I let her go knowing she can do what she wants. But after a while I caught up and got in front. After she got behind me, she kept trying to cross across my legs. This happened about 6 or 7 times in the first 1k and got me so fired up which ended up being exactly what I needed so after about 1.5k I got away from her and kept up a good pace as I didn't know how far behind she was. Ended up beating her by 1-2 mins :D

There was a current going out and for the last 750 which slowed everyone down. It was hard too as there were heaps of support vessels and they made a lot of waves and once they crossed you, not only did you have to deal with wake, but the petrol taste in the water which was so bad!

I finished strongly and think I could have done it slightly faster but it's always hard to know how fast to go. I'm happy as I pretty much kept the same pace the whole way and felt strong.

I was so happy when I saw the results, made the first page, top 50, and under not only an hour, or 55 mins but under the time Peter set for me :D I can't wait for summer back in Oz and to do more ocean swims with the boys :)

We went out for a late lunch/early dinner then came back for a nap.


Day 11 - Sunday, 17th June
Last night in Riccione, bags packed and ready to go for our 4am bus ride tomorrow to Milan.

We went shopping today, then after a healthy lunch of nutella crepes we had a long nap, still tired and sore from the open water.

We went to sit by the pool and have a quiet one but the staff had set up volleyball in the pool. The Italian guy who kept asking me to participate in all the activities who I kept saying no to got me in. It was fun, although everyone else playing were Italian but I could work out pretty much what was going on. They thought I was German at first! Got asked out on a date tonight, politely declined. He didn't understand why I would be hanging out with the old swimmers and not going for a drink with young people.

Funny, I had such a nice afternoon as the Australians in my hotel have formed a group and all have drinks together before they go out separately for dinner or the night's activities. Today was the first day mum and I have stayed with them for longer (to avoid Carlo, my Italian "friend" as well) and everyone debriefed about the holiday and their swims and their training tactics and it was so nice to have a group of people, all ages and abilities who have never met before discuss swimming.

There's one American lady staying with us, she's 92, travelling by herself and has the most positive attitude so it has been inspiring listening to her. I would have guessed she was in her 70s!

I'm going to miss the swimming aspect of the holiday, I have had such wonderful experiences and it is something I will always remember.


See Also
  • 14th FINA World Masters Championships - Report
  • 14th FINA World Masters Championships - Results
  • 14th FINA World Masters Open Water Championships - Results
  • 14th FINA World Masters Championships - Photos


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    Good Start
Alison Sakurovs leaves the blocks at the start of the 100m Freestyle on Day 2 of the 2012 FINA World Masters Championships in Riccione, Italy on Monday, 11th June, 2012.
    Good Start
    Alison Sakurovs leaves the blocks at the start of the 100m Freestyle on Day 2 of the 2012 FINA World Masters Championships in Riccione, Italy on Monday, 11th June, 2012.