Marlborough swimmer Jack Bugler will have a familiar voice urging him on from poolside when he competes in Brisbane later this month.
Liz Peipi, a long-standing swim coach who helped Jack in his formative years, has offered to help the 17-year-old during his bid for success at the INAS (International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairment) Global Games.
Liz and Jack will travel to Australia next week for the rapidly-growing event which runs from October 13-19, plus the three days of international classification which precede the Games.
The Games, which began in 1986 with 14 nations in attendance, now involve around 80 nations, making it the world’s biggest event for athletes with an intellectual impairment. It caters for over 1000 athletes across 10 sports, including 250 swimmers. This is the first time New Zealand has sent a swim team to the Games.
Like the Commonwealth Games, all the athletes, coaches and managers will share dining and accommodation facilities, making for a community atmosphere.
Liz will two other swimmers under her wing in Brisbane, Jane Fox (18) from the Orca Swim Club in Invercargill and 15-year-old Cuda Tawhai from the Taupo Swim Club, who along with Jack qualified for the Games at the recent national champs in Auckland.
Jack, who continually bettered his personal best times at the nationals, has a tough class S14 programme in Australia, contesting nine events across the full range of strokes. On some days he may have three races in the morning and three in the afternoon, if he reaches the finals.
Consequently, he is training hard to lift his fitness levels and working hard on technique with his regular Blenheim swim coach Jenni Gane, who was unable to travel to Brisbane.
However, Jack is well accustomed to Liz’s input. She originally worked with him as a six-year-old learning to swim, then reconnected at swim school aged 14.
Liz finished her lengthy stint as club coach in October 2018 but considers it an honour to be asked to help Jack, and the other youngsters, especially given she was associated with the formation of para-swimming when living and coaching in Greymouth and Westport. One of her favourite sporting quotes is, “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better,” a mantra that fits Jack’s work ethic perfectly.
The INAS organisation is a full member of the International Paralympic Committee, with the Games offering a possible stepping stone to future Paralympic participation.