February 16, 2024

Human Interest Stories: Christopher Preston

Press Release
Human Interest Stories: Christopher Preston

Meet Christopher Preston, a seventy-three-year-old Master Swimmer whose story is a testament to the enduring strength of the human spirit. From his childhood days in Waipawa, where he first made waves as a Senior Swimming Champion, to the bustling streets of London, where he found a second home within the LGBTQ swimming community, Christopher's journey has been one of highs and lows, triumphs and heartaches. But through it all, he's discovered something truly special – a sense of belonging and purpose that's kept him afloat, even in the roughest seas.

So, join us as we dive into Christopher's extraordinary life, filled with moments of joy, sorrow, and the simple pleasure of gliding through the water, reminding us all of the beauty and resilience that lies within each and every one of us.

1. Can you tell us about your journey into swimming and how it has evolved over the years?

  - I rediscovered my passion for swimming later in life following the death of my partner. A good friend suggested joining Out to Swim in London. I did, and discovered the supportive LGBTQ swimming community.


2. What motivated you to return to competitive swimming after a gap of forty years?

  - After witnessing the inspiring performances at the London Olympics in 2012 and reconnecting with swimming through Out to Swim, I felt compelled to challenge myself again and rekindle my competitive spirit.


3. How did your involvement with Out to Swim impact your swimming journey?

  - Out to Swim provided a supportive environment where I could not only improve my swimming skills but also find camaraderie and friendship. It became a second family to me, motivating me to push my limits and pursue competitive swimming once more.


4. What inspired you to participate in international swimming competitions, such as the British Masters National Championships and the Out Games at Antwerp?

  - Attending international competitions allowed me to discover LGBTQ swimming teams worldwide and fostered a sense of belonging within the global swimming community. Competing in events like the British Masters and Out Games fulfilled a lifelong dream and enriched my swimming journey with unforgettable experiences.


5. Could you share your experiences with LGBTQ aquatic clubs around the world and how they've influenced your swimming career?

  - LGBTQ aquatic clubs, like Team Auckland Masters Swimmers and Different Strokes Wellington, provided me with a sense of community and belonging, both locally and internationally. Their visibility and advocacy for LGBTQ inclusion in sports inspired me to continue pushing boundaries in my swimming career.


6. What were some highlights from your international swimming travels, particularly the LGBTQ swimming events you attended?

  - Participating in events like the Euro-games in Copenhagen and IGLA in Edmonton allowed me to explore new cities while swimming alongside friends and fellow LGBTQ athletes from around the world. These events not only showcased the diversity of the swimming community but also celebrated unity and inclusion.


7. How has teaching swimming to LGBTQ adults contributed to your own swimming journey and sense of community?

  - Teaching swimming to LGBTQ adults has been incredibly rewarding, as it allows me to share my passion for the sport while fostering a supportive and inclusive environment. Witnessing my students' progress and seeing them embrace swimming as a form of empowerment reaffirms the importance of community and mentorship in sports.


8. Can you describe your experience participating in events like the Gay Games and IGLA, including any memorable moments or performances?

  - The Gay Games and IGLA are not just about competition; they're about celebration, camaraderie, and solidarity within the LGBTQ sports community. Winning the Pink Flamingo at the Gay Games and representing Out to Swim at IGLA are moments I'll cherish forever, as they epitomize the spirit of inclusivity and resilience in sports.


9. How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your swimming activities and participation in competitions?

  - Like many athletes, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted my swimming routine and forced the cancellation of numerous competitions. However, it also reinforced the importance of adaptability and resilience, as I found ways to stay connected with the swimming community through virtual events and outdoor swimming.


10. As you reflect on your swimming journey, what advice would you give to others, especially those considering joining LGBTQ aquatic clubs or participating in swimming competitions?

   - My advice to anyone considering joining LGBTQ aquatic clubs or pursuing swimming competitively is simple: embrace the journey, cherish the community, and never underestimate the power of resilience and inclusivity in sports. Whether you're swimming for fitness, camaraderie, or competition, remember that every stroke brings you closer to realizing your full potential both in and out of the pool.

stay up-to-date on all things Rainbow Games. See you in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland in 2024!