The Icon:  Michael Read

Image Source: C. Nation, World Aquatics

A man who needs no introduction, former Olympian Michael Read is again taking part in the World Aquatics Masters Championships at the age of 82. For Read, the 3km course will no doubt be a leisurely morning swim given he has the third most crossings of the 34km English Channel – being 33 crossings to date. This includes six separate crossings in 1979 alone. Read was known as the ‘King of the English Channel’ from 1979 to 2005 and has been the President of the Channel Swimming Association for the past 30 years.

In 1973 he became just the second person to circumnavigate the Isle of Wight, a remarkable 90.75km swim over 24 hours, on top of other incredible open water feats in Greece, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Syria, Türkiye, Tunisia and the USA.

Amongst Read’s other accolades is being named in Great Britain’s 4 x 200m Freestyle relay team for the 1960 Olympic Games, a seven decade involvement with the oldest swimming club in England (Brighton Swimming Club) including being the youngest committee member when elected in 1957 at the age of 16, stints as a FINA judge, timekeeper, starter and official. Moreover, he was an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame admittee in 1978, International Swimming Hall of Fame Davids/Wheeler Memorial Award in 2009, and was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2012.

“It’s very important to give back to a sport that has given so much to me. I’ve got so much out of swimming, and continue to, which is why I am here in Doha. For those thinking about it, give it a go, because if you take up the sport at fifty - you’re guaranteed to get better and better with age!”
By Michael Read

The Influencer:  Ildiko Szekely

Image Source: C. Nation, World Aquatics

An influencer, author, disability specialist, and all-round masters swimming advocate, Ildiko Szekely added the open water event to her busy masters pool swimming schedule for Doha 2024. A New England masters hall of fame member, Szekely won pool gold in the 100m and 200m Butterfly events at Montreal 2014, to add to several US masters titles, a US masters relay national record, and ten individual and three All-American honours.

Despite her past and present success, Szekely’s best achievements may be out of the water. Moving from Hungary in her teens with one suitcase and limited English, Szekely went on to double major in International Relations and Psychology at Michigan State University before earning a Master’s Degree in Education from UC Berkeley. A published author and advocate for masters swimming, Szekely has a significant following on social media where she focuses on promoting swimming (especially butterfly), to masters swimmers.

“The masters experience is amazing. I love meeting new people and I really encourage everyone to embrace the incredible opportunities in this sport.”
By Ildiko Szekely

The Individual:  Agustinus Hermino Superma

Image Source: C. Nation, World Aquatics

Competing at his second World Aquatics Masters Championships, Agustinus Hermino Superma is Indonesia’s sole open water swimmer at Doha 2024 and is keen on setting an example back home to encourage more swimmers in Indonesia to take up the challenge of masters competition. Taking time away from work in Laos, the doctor in Education Management is returning to his second career World Aquatics Masters Championships after thoroughly enjoying his Fukuoka 2023 experience.

“I had an amazing experience in Fukuoka. The important thing is not the race, but how we enjoy swimming, to meet new people, and to have a great experience. I really encourage other swimmers from South East Asia to consider joining me at Singapore 2025!”
By Agustinus Hermino Superma