Picton swimmer prepares for world masters championships

HAPPY: Picton swimmer Annie Cook is ready to pull on her Australian cap and head to the world championships. Picture: Joshua Bartlett
HAPPY: Picton swimmer Annie Cook is ready to pull on her Australian cap and head to the world championships. Picture: Joshua Bartlett

Picton's Annie Cook is keen to prove that age is just a number.

If you're ever swam at the Wollondilly Leisure Centre, there's a good chance you've seen Cook powering through the pool.

The 75-year-old is training up to six times a week, mainly in Picton, as she prepares for her next major challenge.

Cook will fly to Gwangju, South Korea, next month for the 2019 FINA (International Swimming Federation) World Masters Championship.

However, the Picton resident is no stranger to competing at the championships.

"I have competed at nine or 10 world championships before and won 17 medals, including three gold," Cook said.

"This time, I am competing in the 75 to 79 years women's age group which makes me feel old.

"I will compete in the 200-metre backstroke, 100m backstroke, 50m backstroke, 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle. Hopefully I can win at least one medal."

Cook said she felt "very honoured" to represent Australia again.

"Selection was based on qualifying times," she said.

"I was given a qualifying time [for each category] that I needed to beat at a sanctioned meet and the results were then sent to FINA judges.

"I'm proud of myself to qualify again. I can't explain the feeling I get when my name is called out [at a world championships]."

Cook said she had trained hard in the lead-up under the guidance of coach Anna Barnes.

"I've done multiple kilometre swims [each week], it's hard work," she said.

"I'm excited about going to the world championships, I haven't been so excited about all of the training though!"

Cook is passionate about swimming, but it hasn't always been that way.

Cook said she swam regularly until she turned 17 before she quit because "I was sick of it".

"I just didn't like, I didn't even step in the ocean anymore," she said.

"I didn't swim again for another 40 years."

Cook said she returned to the sport about 17 years ago as a way of improving her fitness.

Since then, Cook said swimming had allowed her to enjoy another passion - travelling.

"I find the swimming therapeutic and I love to travel," Cook said.

"I get a real buzz when I do well [in the pool] - I've found that I'm very competitive."