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Five minute breather with… John Barrett

Having been plunging in pools since the age of six, John Barrett has been a member of Masters Swimming Queensland since the mid-80s, serving president for the past two years. After setting a couple of Queensland records in 2008 and taking a bronze medal, he now has his goggles set on the FINA World Masters Championships in Montreal in July/August.

“The Masters swimming motto is: ‘Fitness, fun and friendship’, and I’ve kept fit and made some good friends over the past 30 years” – John Barrett


Occupation: Director finance and office services at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

What’s great about swimming? I’ve always enjoyed the floating sensation of being in the water. The Masters swimming motto is: ‘Fitness, fun and friendship’, and I’ve kept fit and made some good friends over the past 30 years.

Bill-&-JohnOutside of being in the pool, what activity makes you the happiest? Spending time with my brother and sisters and extended family.

How and when did you discover swimming? My sisters were good swimmers and taught me to swim at the local pool in Toowoomba when I was six.

How else do you stay active? I used to play hockey but my ankles can’t cope anymore.

Are you a morning or afternoon mover? I prefer to train in the morning as it gets me going for the day.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a weekend in Townsville? A swim along The Strand, enjoying the views of Castle Hill and Magnetic Island.

Your most motivating tune? Johnnie B Good.

Motivational quote? “Spread your arms, hold your breath and always trust your cape”.

How do you pep yourself up when you’re craving the couch? I think about how much my times could improve.

Do you prefer to get active solo, or with a buddy? I find swimming with the squad a lot easier and more enjoyable.

Most annoying fitness fad? Roller blades.

What’s your greatest fitness achievement? Setting Queensland records in the 400m and 800m freestyle in my age group [50-54 years] in 2008.

Best active moment? Bronze medal in the Open Water Swim at the 2008 FINA World Masters Championships.


What activity have you always wanted to try (and what’s holding you back)? I would have liked to have done more bushwalks but my ankles won’t allow it now.

What’s something we don’t know about you? I’ve got a science degree but have never worked as a scientist.

What’s your next goal? The FINA World Masters Championships in Montreal [July 27 to August 10, 2014]. I haven’t been training as hard as I have in the past and the Americans and Canadians are very competitive, but I’m hoping to go close to a top 10 finish in the 800m Freestyle and 3km Open Water swims.

What are you doing to get there? Swimming five times a week and doing two gym sessions.


Most embarrassing moment on the go? I’m hopeless at creek crossings: Always falling in. I try and cover it up by saying it’s hot and I just wanted to go for a swim.

Who would you most like to train with (e.g. famous person, or someone you look up to)? Kevin Jackson. Kevin is five years older than me and is the 2004 Townsville Senior Sports Person of the year. He keeps setting records in his age group, which I try and break when I move into that age group. By training with him it reminds me of how much work I need to do.

The training advice I wish I’d listened to was… ‘Get your rating up’.

Most treasured piece of fitness gear? A good pair of goggles.

My best local fitness tip is… Tobruk Pool.


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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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