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

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