Masters swimmer prepares for his first world titles
SWIMMING: 76-year-old Angourie swimmer Helmut Klein is about to prove it's never too late to achieve your dreams.
He will compete at his first world championship event in April when he heads to Auckland in New Zealand for the World Masters Games.
"It was always my dream to compete in a world event," Klein said.
"I just wanted to compete in one world event, and it doesn't get much closer to Australia."
That dream was born just a decade ago, when Klein joined Clarence River Masters Swim Club and learned to swim.
"I guess I could say I got hooked on the swimming 10 years ago," he said.
Prior to 2007 he had previously only swum breaststroke; incidentally one of the strokes in which he thrives.
"While Helmut swims freestyle he is very competitive in backstroke and breaststroke," Clarence River Masters Swim president Jane Lawrence said.
"A keen competitor himself, you can always rely on Helmut for encouragement and assistance in preparing for carnivals. His efforts are inspirational."
Klein was recently left speechless when he was awarded a certificate from Masters Swimming Australia, for placing in the Top Ten in the 2016 Master Swim Series for his male 75-79 age group.
He finished fourth overall on 769 points tallied from his results at the National Championships and Pan Pacific Championships in 2016, which included three gold medals at the latter.
To stay fit Klein joins a group of swimmers at nine o'clock every morning to swim from Main Beach to Convent Beach in Yamba.
"It's a very social thing, really," he said. "|We'll go for a cup of coffee afterwards and have a bit of a yarn."
"The motto of the whole masters swimming is 'fitness, fun and friendship'."
Klein will compete in all the breaststroke and backstroke events as well as the 2.5km ocean swim in New Zealand.
"I imagine it will be pretty fierce competition," he said. "There's quite a few people alive who are 75 to 79, I'm sure."
Klein is one of six Clarence River Masters swimmers heading to New Zealand on April 15 for the World Masters Games which start April 21.