LEAD STORY.........a night to remember!

A tribute from South African Masters Swimming.

Although not a masters swimmer Karen Muir stamped her name on swimming in South Africa and was the inspiration to many great South African Swimmers and that includes many of you wonderful Masters Swimmers.

There were so many great moments in her illustrious swimming career but one of the highlights for pure emotion and quite unbelievable excitement had to be the “Final that Never was” that took place at the Rachel Finlayson Pool in Durban in 1968

The Hype and the build-up to the event has not been surpassed since, even though there have been many world topping performances by South African swimmers, that followed over the years here in South Africa.

Due to the fact that South was not able to participate at the 1968 Olympics due the unsavoury political climate it was agreed to swim our 2 World Record Holders Karen Muir and the gracious Ann Fairlie, against the Olympic medalists, as a challenge to themselves and to the medalists, just to see who actually was the best in the world at that time.

The two Olympic Medalists, incredibly sportingly, agreed to accept the challenge. They were Cathy Fergusson from the USA and Kiki Caron from France. The day arrived and the buzz and excitement around the event was totally electric and billed as one of the greatest moments in South African swimming. Special stands were erected to accommodate the demand for tickets, to witness this historical event, and were sold out almost immediately. People were even offering nearby flat owners money to be able to watch from the High Rise apartment blocks over the road from the pool (with binoculars naturally).

 It was a night of insanity. Our Girls were the Holders of the World Record (which they passed back and forth between them. Ann had just broken Karen’s world record the week before) and the medalists recognized as the Best in the World. The pool surround was packed with spectators and International Press with everyone speculating about the outcome. The girls lined up and under the starter’s orders and after much whistle blowing, took to the water.

The gun went off (no one was killed.) and the race of a lifetime was under way. It was neck and neck all the way in the first 50m (remember all four were the very best in the world) and very little separated the five swimmers. Karen turned slightly ahead with the pack right on her heels. Ann’s smooth stroke was so evident and the Slap from Karen epitomized 100 % effort.

The noise was deafening as the five headed for the finish and soon became clear that our Golden Girls were edging ahead. It was a race to the wall with Karen just winning in a world record from Ann (who was also inside the old world record) with Kiki Caron Third.

The cheering and applauding went on long after the girls had exited the pool with everyone on their feet. There were also a few tears of joy and pride. The crowd continued to cheer until the top three, robed in white Gowns climbed onto a specially erected winners Dias to accept their medals. As the three winners stepped up an almighty roar erupted that would have made any full house Rugby Stadium proud.

 What a night. If you were there you will never forget it.

Well done Karen and well done Ann.

You did us so proud and we will never forget you.