Monday, 16 July 2018

NZMS Swimmer of the Year 2017 - Julie Gunthorp

Julie's swimming career began at the Parnell Baths at age 9 under the guidance of Paul Krause, showing some promise she moved to the open air Olympic Pool in Newmarket under Jack Lyons. There she trained with the likes of Dave Gerrard, Tony Graham, Bruce Robertson, Margaret McRae and her greatest achievement as a junior was qualifying in the 200 backstroke for the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica, however, she was not selected as in those days you had to qualify in both the 100 and 200.

She took up Masters swimming aged 50 when living on the Gold Coast. While doing a few laps at the Currumbin pool another swimmer encouraged Julie to join a Masters club so she joined Miami Masters and for five years competed all around Australia breaking national backstroke records in her age groups. She now swims for the North Shore Masters Club in Auckland and trains 3 - 4 times per week at her workplace under coach Casey Glover, covering 3.5km - 4km each session. 

As her club NSMS fittingly says "Everything she touches turns to gold".

Julie won 6 Gold medals at the World Masters Games held in Auckland and 4 Golds and 1 Silver at the FINA World Masters Championships in Budapest. She made the FINA World Masters Top 10 times for 2017 in 20 events and 12 of these were in the top 3. In her age group for 2017, Julie was the fastest swimmer in the world for 400 and 800m freestyle and 200m backstroke.

During 2017 she broke NZ records on no less than 33 occasions. These records covered the freestyle distances from 50 to 800m, and all Fly, Backstroke and Individual Medley distances.  Julie lowered the 800 freestyle record by over 2 minutes and the 400 IM by nearly 1 minute 30 and also broke the 50m freestyle record which had stood for 25 years.

Julie works as a swim instructor at SwimMagic CLM The Bays where she teaches babies from six months old up to school age kids. When she is not in the water, she enjoys gardening and knits for the prem unit at Middlemore Hospital and loves spending time with her two daughters and five Grandchildren.  Julie and her partner of 20 years, Max, enjoy travelling and plan to retire on the Gold Coast in August. 


When asked who inspires her she said that Barry Young, a North Shore Masters swimmer who tragically died two years ago is one of her greatest inspirations and says he was always very supportive of her swimming and gave her some wonderful advice over the years.  Julie met Lauren Boyle at the Swimming NZ Awards:  in Julie's own words "And now Lauren Boyle, with whom I had a wonderfully funny chat at the Swimming NZ Awards – she came up and asked me “what is your swimming regime” – only joking of course!! I was dumbstruck – what, her asking me what I did in training??"

Julie's future goals for retirement are to enjoy life, a lot of travelling, continue competing and doing the Greek Islands Swim Tour.  In her own words "Swimming has taken me all over the world and I would like to continue"

Julie has dominated her age group both in NZ and on the world stage - she is a well deserving recipient of our Masters Swimmer of the Year.  Well done Julie, and all the best for the future!

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