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IGLA Championships dive into Iceland

Editor's Note: Charlie Carson, the longtime veteran of Team New York Aquatics, is gracious enough to give us some updates from the IGLA Championships in Iceland.

We are at the halfway point of the 20th International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics Championships, hosted in Reykjavik, Iceland, by the swimmers of the local Styrmir Sports Club – and it is no overstatement to say that everyone is having a fabulous time.

Both the one- and three-meter diving contests were held today (Thursday) at the Sundholl Reykjavikur. Swimming and water polo are being held at the Laugardalur pool. Swimming began yesterday with the 1500 meter freestyle with the final event to come on Saturday, which will be followed by the water polo medal matches before the traditional Pink Flamingo comedy skits Saturday afternoon.

Without question the most exciting head-to-head matches of the meet have been between Win Chesson of Team New York Aquatics (TNYA) and Peter Volosin of District of Columbia Aquatics (DCAC) in the Men’s 25-29 year age group. Win took their initial meeting in the 1500 with a 17:35.36 to Peter’s 17:39.73.

Today’s 200 meter freestyle was neck-and-neck, with both flipping at the 100 meter turn at exactly 59.63. Peter pulled into a clear lead by the 150 mark. Win fought back to pull almost even at the end, but Peter won this time in 2:02.47 to 2:02.96. You can bet everyone will stop to focus on the pool when they meet for the third time on Saturday morning in the 400 meter freestyle.

Other fine swims have been turned in by: Corey Welch of Team Florida, who swam a 1:06.12 in the 100 meter breaststroke (Men 25-29); Jennifer Ogle, Seattle Orcas, in the 50 meter butterfly (Women 45-49); and Fred Dever of DCAC, whose 1500 meter freestyle time of 19:51.20 in the Men’s 45-49 division also would have won gold in the Men’s 30-34, 35-39 and 40-44 age groups.

Swimmers from IGLA’s member teams in the U.S. have turned out in droves for a chance to swim in Iceland, but there are a good number of swimmers from Canada, Europe and Central America. The youngest swimmers are both European, Anita Bjork Johannsdottir, 20, of Styrmir, and Bjorn Axelsson, 20, of the Stockholm Dolphins. The oldest swimmers are Laura Gogola, 76, of Michigan Masters, and two men age 74, Michael Dively of Team Florida and Ken Heard of Toronto’s Downtown Swim Club. One of the most notable swimmers at the meet is TNYA coaching staff member and swimmer Leila Vaziri, past world record holder in the women’s 50 meter backstroke.

Swimming teams are divided into large, medium and small divisions competing for the IGLA championship trophies. Team New York Aquatics is expected to win the large division for the first time ever, in no small part due to the large number of team swimmers compared with the next largest teams. I’ll send team scores in a later report. A water polo report is also due to come from one of the tournament leaders.

The highlight of the social events so far was the opening party on Wednesday night at the world famous Blue Lagoon. Over the years IGLA swimmers have been in a lot of unique water environments in many countries but nothing like the Blue Lagoon’s hot springs with a DJ, bar and attendant giving facial masks. Actually, the Laugardalur swimming pool itself is perhaps the second-most unique – we compete in the indoor pool and warm up in the colder air but warmer water of the outdoor pool. The weather has been outstandingly sunny for this time of year, and the hot tubs and recreational pools around the outdoor competition pool have been filled with locals of all ages soaking up the sun.

It’s been a great trip – more information to come.