A chance challenge to a swimming race started Chanel College Masterton Principal Jo Matthews on the path that lead to a silver medal at the World Masters’ Games in Canada last month.
Jo won silver in her age group in the 200 metres butterfly which makes her the second fastest person in the world in this category.
Jo says she has always been a sporting person and specialised in sports teaching in her teacher training.
She used to swim as a way of meeting people when she was young but stopped under the pressure of exams.
Later on she played squash, netball, and hockey, until a visiting world champion suggested they have a swimming race.
She managed to hold her own in the race against Mike Fibbens who was ranked fifth in the world and he suggested she should be using this talent and encouraged her to get back into the water.
Jo has been training for the Masters’ Games for the past 18 months though she says she sometimes struggles to fit it in to her busy job schedule.
She manages to train with the children’s squad in Masterton four or five times a week and the regime they use keeps her focused on a programme designed to achieve the level of fitness she needs.
She also has to watch what she eats and, though swimming is not as hard on the body as other sports, she has to be careful about what she does in between to stay free of injury.
Jo says swimming is a wonderful way to release the stress of her job as Principal and to see the world. When she lived in the UK she swam in competitions all over Europe. In New Zealand she has been to many places to compete including Christchurch in 2002 when she swam in the World Swimming Championships.
She is looking forward to the next world swimming championships in 2010 when she will be in another age group.