North-east swimming veteran, Audrey Cooper, is living testament that it is never too late to take up a new sport. What began as a hobby is now a serious pastime and one that has seen her claim medals on the British and European stages.
With her sights firmly set on the near horizon, the 57 year old is currently in training to compete in the 14th FINA World Championships in Riccione, Italy, in June 2012.
A resident of Dunvegan Crescent, Portlethen, Audrey took up swimming 25 years ago by joining the Silver City Blues masters swim club for adult swimmers for fitness and social reasons two to three times a week.
She quickly realised that she had a passion for the sport and, in 1994, started upping her training schedule with a view to taking it up competitively. Her varied shift work in her position at B&Q Garthdee allowed her to swim daily. The university’s sport facility, RGU: SPORT, provided the ideal environment for her to increase her training to the point where she now swims six days – and an average of 22,000 metres - a week.
“The facilities are fantastic,” she continued, “with lane swimming available almost every day and the ability to use paddles and flippers for training. There is a regular group at lunchtime and we train together which is great for keeping your motivation up.”
Audrey’s determination and love of swimming have propelled her to success in recent years. She has won gold medals at the British Masters Championships and took bronze at the European Championships in Cadiz, Spain in 2009 within the 800M freestyle. In 2008 she broke the British record for 800M freestyle for the 50 to 54 year old category. Her achievements were recognised closer to home later in the year when she was named the Aberdeen Council Sports Person Veteran of the Year.
In November 2010, Audrey’s performance at the Scottish Short Course Championships in Glasgow saw her smash the European record for 1500M freestyle for the 55 to 59 year category.
With only seven months to go until the World Championships, Audrey is already following a strict training regime. She and fellow swimmer June Falconer - Scottish champion and silver British medallist - train together at the university every lunchtime. Both are training for the World Championships.
Looking ahead to June 2012, Audrey faces some significant challenges to achieve her dream: “Unfortunately my strongest events, the 1500M freestyle and 400 individual medley, are not recognised at the world masters. As such I’m having to train extra hard to develop my ability in shorter 800M and 400M freestyle and 200M individual medley events. This is not easy task but I’m enjoying the challenge and have a keen eye on my goal.”
Catryn Davies, duty manager at RGU: SPORT added: “We are delighted to be a base for athletes such as Audrey and to help them to achieve their goals in a modern and local environment.”
“We are very proud to have some of the best facilities in the north-east and to know that we can offer a supportive venue for future stars. Audrey is a fantastic addition to our bank of top athletes such as Hannah Miley and our other student sport scholars.”
Before next summer’s event, Audrey will appear at the Scottish and British Masters in Spring. Potential sponsors interested in supporting Audrey in her world campaign can get in touch with her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communications Officer | Faculty of Health and Social Care
Robert Gordon University
Tel: 01224 262389