Jaynie Parkhouse – Back in Gisborne after 30 Years
Wednesday 15 September 2004
Commonwealth gold medallist Jaynie Parkhouse was thrilled to be invited back to Gisborne this month to recreate an historic swim she first completed 30 years ago.
“I was honoured to be asked. After 30 years you want me to get into togs and swim…now that’s a leap of faith! I think I’ll need a new pair of togs to mark the occasion.“
The historic swim is part of Gisborne Olympic Pool’s 30th Birthday Celebrations open to everyone on Saturday 18 September.
Jaynie Parkhouse, or Hudgell as she is now, shot to fame in 1974 after picking up a gold medal in the 800m freestyle and bronze in the 400m at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games.
She was 17-years-old when she grabbed her golden win – a moment etched into history after television cameras captured her winning smile.
“Representing your country is an honour in itself, but to win gold in front of a home crowd was an indescribable feeling – one I will never forget.”
Following her win, Jaynie Hudgell went on a whirlwind tour of New Zealand with the rest of the swimming team, and not long after, accepted an invitation to open Gisborne’s Olympic Pool.
She recalls that the water was cold.
“Gisborne’s pool was an outdoor pool then and it was September I think. It was freezing!”
“But a new pool always looks fantastic and I certainly remember that. I am looking forward to seeing it again and I’m sure it will jog more memories.”
After opening the Gisborne Olympic Pool in 1974, Jaynie married fellow swimmer Craig Hudgell, retired from swimming, and moved to Canada where she lived and worked for five years.
Returning to New Zealand in the early eighties, the Hudgell’s had two children, and these days they run a number of businesses from their Wellington home.
All this time Jaynie Hudgell has never been far from the sport of swimming. She has taught dozens of children to swim, has been invited to speak to up-and-coming athletes, and she and her husband are regulars at their local pool.
“We try and get a couple of swims in each week. I think it’s essential for wellbeing. Swimming is no strain on your muscles and joints. Everyone needs to swim,” she says.
As well as recreating her own historic swim during the 30th Birthday Celebrations Jaynie Hudgell will also take part in the Celebrity Swimming Race.
Other celebrity swimmers include double Olympic gold medal kayaker Alan Thompson, multiple surf lifesaving world champion Cory Hutchings, former All Whites captain Roger Gray, former New Zealand netballer Sandra Edge, Turanga Health Rising Suns Basketball captain Robbie Wilson, and others.
A New Zealand record attempt at underwater swimming by Gisborne freediver Suzy Kensington, free entry to the pool, fair ground rides for children, and a sumptuous raffle, will also be features of the birthday bash.
The Birthday Celebrations mark the launch of the Friends of the Olympic Pool Complex Society and are open to everyone on Saturday 18 September, 10am-2pm.