By Stephen J. Thomas
SYDNEY, Australia, March 16. THE irrepressible Aussie Masters swimming machine Jenny Whiteley capped what has been a sensational year for her when she was presented with the Australian Masters "Athlete of the Year" Award for 2003 at a glittering dinner in Sydney.
The unassuming 45-year-old from the Ryde Club in Sydney set ten world and forty-two national Masters records last year as well as being named female swimmer of the meet at the Australian Masters Games in November where she also set five meet records.
As a teenager, Whiteley swam with the Ryde Club in the early 70's in the shadow of Olympic legend Shane Gould and under the famous coaching team of Forbes and Ursula Carlile. She competed at the national level but admitted to being "too nervous in competition in those days" and eventually decided to swap swimming for her tertiary studies. However, Whiteley did recall finishing third behind distance champion Jenny Turrell in a race that saw Turrell set a new world record for the 1500 freestyle in 1974.
Whiteley, who is married with a son and works full-time in hospital administration, recently picked up a swimwear contract with TYR for her efforts and, not wanting to rest on her laurels, has qualified to compete in the 50 breaststroke at the Australian Olympic Trials in two weeks. However, she will not be the only Masters swimmer to compete, with her more famous counterpart Shane Gould, two years her senior, also entered in the 50 fly.
Whiteley, although recovering from a couple of minor injuries sustained out of the pool during the Christmas holidays, recorded some excellent times with five wins at the New South Wales Masters Champs held this past weekend.