Sunday, 24 January 2016

Tribute To Wayne Evans - "A Superb Swimmer" by Roger Eagles

"In the mid to late 70's in the Murikhiku Swim Club here in lnvercargill there was a young boy swimming amongst a small group whom I briefly coached. In a discussion with Wayne about two years ago he reminded me that he was in that group and that this was the first time that we had met. He went on to become well known as a successful teenage swimmer competing at a national level but one wonders now how far he might have gone if he had then been in the hands of a top professional coach and had been persuaded to continue on with his swimming into his 20s.

Much later, sometime before 1993, Wayne joined Masters Swimming. However, it was after Wayne had been to Wellington and he and Nicola returned that he began to get more serious about his Masters Swimming. By 2002 he was back swimming and competing then from 2006 onwards he set 19 NZ Masters records, 11 of which still stand.  They are in butterfly, freestyle, breaststroke and medley. He could swim all strokes well although he liked to disparage his own backstroke.

As early as 1993 a commentator in Masters Swimming had remarked on Wayne's style, the remark published in a recent book on Masters Swimming in NZ. Garbet said in referring to Wayne's swimming in the Long Course National Championship in Dunedin:

"The first false start in the event went to Wayne Evans in the 200m breaststroke. Wayne, very keen to get into the water, looks terrific in the stroke. There are those who manage to make breaststroke look graceful and those that don't. It somehow seems that the graceful ones are the fast ones."

In his freestyle, Wayne had a crisp, classical,high elbow recovery style with an attractive spearing motion for both his arms, both exactly equal in style, and he was fast off the blocks with quick turns.At meets it is quite so that people would hang around just to watch him swim, the speed and the spray coming off his arms thrilling to see.

Wayne had competed successfully in the top 10 in the World Masters Swimming Championships in Christchurch in 2002 but in terms of numbers it was one of the smallest meets around that time. Some years later, out of curiosity, I compared Wayne's best times with the best times currently being swum in the world at that time. All of his times would have ranked him between third and fifth and ahead of him were some former Olympic medallists. I have no doubt that with the right training and timing he could have become a World Masters champion.

Wayne valued his connections with Swim Southland and was particularly interested in younger swimmers. He not only made himself aware of them but he got to know them and they naturally looked up to him and were more than impressed that he was not only a kind and sympathetic adult but a swimmer who regularly competed at Swim Southland events. He did not confine his swimming to Masters.  Wayne is also known to me through his involvement in that excellent organisation, Sport Southland. He was a member of the Board and became Deputy Chairman. He had a way of looking into an organisation's future and a way of summarising its position in the community. He was also known to me professionally, more recently in a difficult matter, and I endorse all the favourable remarks which have been made and are likely to be made about him as to his astuteness and forward thinking.

Let me conclude with a swimming anecdote. One year our club held a fun meet. We had some novelty events. One of them was an underwater challenge to see who could do 25m underwater. That is one lap of the pool. Two or three swimmers did so, and one did about 30m. Wayne decided to have a go. He dived in. I was standing at the edge of the pool watching him and my jaw began to drop. He surfaced over three laps later, having swum over 80m underwater on a single breath.

A superb swimmer, and a man very much to like and admire."

Roger Eagles

Tribute To Wayne Evans - Jenny Pascoe Speaks about Wayne's involvement and contribution to Foveax Masters Swimming Club

"When Wayne & Nicola moved back to Invercargill to setup Finance Now Wayne also appeared at the pool numerous times. Apart from the appeal of having more members on board in the club, watching Wayne swim was something else. I approached Wayne to come on board with the Club not realising that he was a member of the club before he went away. This was approximately the time that young Thomas was born and Wayne’s commitment to swimming was not on the ‘to do’ list at the time.

Foveaux Masters was built on Fun Fitness and Friendship and when Wayne joined the club he gave it the competitive edge that was not a priority or necessary from many of our long serving members. Wayne’s commitment to the club began and never faulted. Not only was Wayne a dedicated swimmer he was also a dedicated office bearer.

Wayne started to attend National events with one of his first appearances in Auckland in 2006 at the Long Course Nationals where he broke several NZ records that still exist today. Wayne’s swimming style made everyone sit up and watch! Comments from Master Swimmers who stared in open awe at Wayne’s style when he swum in the pool. One particular event that Wayne entered had all spectators aghast when it was noticed that Lane 4 was missing after the gun start of the event but in fact when you kept watching Wayne surfaced well down the pool and several body lengths ahead of other competitors. You could watch Wayne at the end of a race and when he gave the ‘air pump’ you knew he broke another NZ record.

Wayne enjoyed the fun side of swimming with him taking the initiative over one event where we had Wayne, Dom Flately, Roger Eagles and myself available from the club to form a relay: But we needed 2 girls and 2 boys. And you guessed it, Wayne never to miss an opportunity asked me for a pair of togs – and as you all know I would be lucky to come up to his chest!. Digging out an

old pair of togs, as I thought he may have to cut them up to fit them, he pulled them on and I have to tell you it wasn’t a pleasant look. Because Wayne didn’t have much movement and he was the only one that could swim decent butterfly he dived in and only had to do a couple of strokes to get to the end of the pool before finishing. I never wore those togs again.

Wayne also enjoyed having his work colleagues around him and promptly entered a Finance Now relay in one of our National Events held at Splash Palace. Phil, Jared, Bruce and Wayne partnered up and the one event they entered had the largest contingent of spectators watching – that’s right Finance Now employees all turned up to watch.

Another of the qualities of Wayne which I was able to witness first hand was when he swum Foveaux Strait. Wayne had mentioned to me that he might make an attempt on the Strait but kept it close to his chest. Consequently he was at the pool each morning slowing his arm stroke, completing repetitive 100’s on 1.30 and getting the feel for his swim. I am pretty sure some of the other swimmers enjoyed this because he was in the next lane and you could actually beat him – which believe me ordinarily never happened.

The boat departed Bluff and got out into the strait and before long we were all not feeling the best. Moving around the boat to find fresh air, hanging on for dear life as the boat rocked and rolled over to Stewart Island. When told to suit up and helping Wayne into his wetsuit was not easy. At one stage Wayne said he would be back in a minute – thinking he had popped away for a nervous one, he came back white as a ghost but determined to continue with his plan. So I spread Vaseline around his neck, arms and legs, so he would not get it on his goggles. Wayne made his way out of the boat to get onto the inflatable. I had asked Wayne to look over so I could get a couple of last minute photos of him starting. Unfortunately he was unexpectedly and violently sick and I had to scurry away. Moments later he was on his way across the strait. Watching Wayne swim that day was something I will never forget, he continued on at a steady pace, getting nowhere at one stage until we made a turned with the tide. Swimming beside him he never once complained, never once said he was tired and never once doubted he was not going to make it. Making it to land was a feeling of pure euphoria that this guy

could achieve such a swim. Dropping him off home, he was shattered!! He couldn’t carry his gear inside and giving him a congratulations hug hurt him.

Although his swim is not recognised as an official swim, as open water swims can only be done in swimming togs, Wayne never hesitated to recognise the stamina and determination that John van Leeuwen must have had that day over 50 years ago.

Throughout the years Wayne and I had many hours sitting around the table working together on the club finances, chatting before and after meetings, working through the calendar of events, drawing up results and instigating some fun swims. Whenever a task came up to be completed Wayne was there. On many an occasion Wayne was unable to swim in events but he was always around to help. Thank you to Adam, Mark, Nick and Thomas for helping at the many open water swims.

Our club has lost the backbone that has kept it together for the last 10 years. If anything, I have learnt, it is that in my eyes the title of ‘President’ will always belong to Wayne. Thank you Wayne, for some of the most positive and successful years and for putting Foveaux Master Swimming Club back on the map."
Jenny Pascoe