Home' LOTL : June 2010 Contents 26 Lesbians On The Loose Magazine • lotl.com
Lifestyle Opinion / Profile / Travel / Food / Stars
Schoolteacher Natalie Gray felt a little
fraudulent when she attended the
Glamourhead Sharks 'Welcome to Youth'
night. Taking a close friend along to literally hold
her hand, Gray said she felt she was "tipping the
bucket, at age 30."
But she needn't have. e Melbourne swim
club's youngest member may be just 24, but their
eldest swimmer is 72 years old.
New to the scene, Gray joined the Sharks to
stay t and meet other people, when she tired of
the pubs and clubs. A er some initial jitters, her
ner ves quickly vanished when she nally went
to that rst meet. "I asked which was the slow
lane and dived into a training session that was
gruelling fun, and most importantly personalised.
Everyone asked and remembered my name, I
immediately felt at home."
e club was founded a er several swimmers
wanted to compete in the 2002 Sydney Gay
Games. e group selected a name that screamed
both camp and competitive and the Glamourhead
Sharks were born. Nine years on, the club are
sending an eighteen strong contingent of gay men
and women to the 2010 event in Cologne. Club
captain Dane McManus says as well as soaking
up the atmosphere, he hopes the swimmers will
achieve new personal bests and possibly pick up
a medal or two.
And if you're a Shark a new personal best could
mean an entry into the record books. e men's
relay team recently broke two master's world
records for the 400m freestyle and medley relays.
Training twice a week at the Wesley pool, it's
fair to say the club take their swimming pretty
seriously but you don't need to be Stephanie
Rice to join. "As long as you can swim 300 metres
freestyle and are con dent in another stroke,
you're in," says Gray.
Coaches will give swimmers pointers so they
feel they have something to work on each week,
and each pool lane targets a speci c tness level
and ability. But Gray concedes swimmers do feel
"pretty exhausted" a er training. It's a "good
exhausted," she says, "not the type that turns you
o sport... it makes you want more."
And for Gray, the hard work paid o , when
she was rewarded with the thrill of competing
again for the rst time since high school. "I was so
excited I did a little dance at the end of the race,"
And the Sharks activities aren't limited to the
water. e club organises monthly dinners and
fundraisers, as well as swim meets. Gray clearly
likes to sing when she's swimming, she has fond
memories of taking out the karaoke contest with
fellow team member Jack Dow at the group's
"golden goggles" awards night.
But for the schoolteacher, it's the mix of people
she meets at the club which excites her the most.
LGBT community groups can end up divided
by gender. But the Sharks pride themselves on
blurring those lines. " e closest friend I've made
on the team is a young gay guy." She adds that,
"women have always been a strong part of the
With over seventy members, the organisation
continues to go from strength to strength, with
specialist coaching clinics set up for the coming
year, and the sharks are heading towards their 10th
birthday. Club captain McManus says they'll be
celebrating in style. e Sharks are aiming to send
40 swimmers to the 2011 Asia Paci c Outgames
in New Zealand while hoping to recruit some
younger swimmers to the club.
And for those curious about the group, but still
feeling a little intimidated, Gray has these words
of advice: "Take the plunge, join! It took me a
while to do it, but I haven't looked back since."
For more information go to glamourheads.org.
Nicky Breen dives into the deep end with the Glamourhead Sharks.
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