Pool Life Saving just adds a whole new dimension to swimming

Jenny Whiteley
“Pool Life Saving just adds a whole new dimension to swimming. There’s a real technical component to the sport which makes it very interesting,” says Masters competitor Jenny Whiteley.

Jenny began pool swimming when she was eight-years-old and swam as an amateur until she was 16. “I then took a break for ten years but got into Masters swimming when I was 26,” she said, and hasn’t looked back. Jenny holds a string of State, National and World records in 50, 100 and 200m distances in “everything but backstroke,” Jenny laughs. “It’s that one stroke that just doesn’t work for me.”

In recent years Jenny has turned her attention to Pool Lifesaving Sport. “My nieces started at The Waves Aquatic and Fitness Centre at Baulkham Hills, and then my son got into it. They encouraged me to try and I loved it. That was six or seven years ago,” she said.

Jenny has well and truly transferred her pool swimming success into Pool Life Saving, holding world records in the 50m Manikin Carry, the 100m Manikin Carry, the 100m Manikin Tow and the 200m obstacles; the same distances as her pool records but with the added component that Pool Life Saving provides.

“It’s that other dimension in Pool Life Saving that makes it interesting. I love competing in the obstacles, manikin carry, manikin tow, rescue relay, line throw...there’s more to it than there is with swimming. For example, the manikins are heavy, they weigh 40kg and you have to make sure you have the energy left to carry them or tow them; you have to factor that into your race plan,” she said.

Jenny competes in the 50–54 age group and has a training regimen that puts many others to shame. “I like to do five swim squad training sessions a week,” Jenny said, revealing that each two-hour pool session covers four to four-and-a-half kilometres. “I do one life saving session a week to work on the skills and a gym session as well.”

With the Australian Pool Life Saving Championships looming, Jenny is keen to continue her success. “I did really well at Rescue 2012 World Championships in Adelaide [where she won her world records]. I’d like to get some PBs or at least close to PBs. I would like to keep it to that level,” she said.

As a pool swimmer and regular competitor in ocean swimming events, Jenny is philosophical about Pool Lifesaving’s place. “Pool Life Saving isn’t well known; it’s a small group, but it’s a very tight-knit group. Australians are so well known for their pool swimming ability and surf lifesavers are such an iconic part of our culture because of our beaches and beautiful coastline, but Pool Life Saving is such a great sport and it’s growing.”

But competition aside, Jenny, like everyone involved in Pool Life Saving, understands that it is the lifesaving skills underpinning the sport that are the key component. “It’s [life saving skills] just so important. I know Royal Life Saving is really pushing to have swimming and water safety skills put back into schools at the moment and I hope they can do that. Learning how to save a life is such a valuable skill to have,” she said.