A Few Weeks Before Cleveland’s Gay Games 9, a Swimmer Looks Back – and Forward

By Charlie Carson, IGLA Delegate to the Federation of Gay Games

For decades, no one had cracked the 20 second barrier in the 50 yard freestyle event (yards are commonly contested in U.S. high school and collegiate swimming).

But when Joe Bottom broke it at the 1977 NCAA Championships, he smashed it – to 19.70. A three-tenths of a second drop over just 50 yards or even 50 meters, when increments usually fall by a hundredth or two, is truly smashing it. Joe’s talent and training propelled him to the record, but there was another factor at play.

The 20-second barrier was broken at Cleveland State University’s then-new Robert Busbey Natatorium. CSU’s pool has proven time and again to be built for setting records, due to its depth (which provides buoyancy) and overflow gutters (waves dissipate over the edges rather than back at the swimmers).

Gay Games 9’s swimming competition will be contested over the international standard long course 50 meters in that very pool, and several women and men are looking to break existing masters marks there in August. Virtually all participants who show up in shape and ready to go will find that CSU’s pool will help them set personal bests.

In eight previous editions, Gay Games swimming increasingly has been held in world class facilities such as CSU’s and Sydney’s Olympic Aquatic Centre. Our events are fully sanctioned and are run by certified officials. Swimmers have set the most marks among all sports held at the Gay Games. But it took several editions to reach this standard of excellence.

After just the first day of swimming competition at Gay Games I in 1982, team representatives held a meeting in the spectator seating area of the small San Francisco State University pool to talk about how things were going.

We were still a little bit giddy from the opening ceremony and making new friends, but now we were getting down to the business of our sport. We wanted to do two things – start a contact list for future training and competitions, and discuss adjustments in the running of that meet (ad hoc relays that had been permitted on day 1 were discontinued; unusual age group divisions like 35-and-up would remain for this meet).

I remember several of us said we’ll run it more like a standard masters meet “next time.”

Next time, however, wasn’t guaranteed. A good number of the Gay Games organizers were either burnt out or a bit overwhelmed by the logistics, as well as the ongoing fight over the initial use of the word “Olympic.” Even Gay Games founder Tom Waddell said he was ambivalent about holding a second games.

They just needed a few good nights’ sleeps. San Francisco’s LGBT community and the city itself soon confirmed that there would indeed by a second Gay Games four years later. The new Gay Games II sports organizers – including Hal Herkenhoff, a tall, handsome blond swimmer known to his friends as Buffy – adopted feedback from 1982 to upgrade officiating and run competitions according to standard rules.

When we arrived back in San Francisco in 1986, networks of teams were growing within each sport. Several LGBT sports governing bodies, such as International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA), were founded by teams at Gay Games II. We enjoyed the fitness and camaraderie fostered by the Gay Games so much that we didn’t want to wait another four years for a next time. IGLA began the first of its annual championship tournaments just one year later.

Now we have 30 years of “next times,” with rules discussions largely in the past and a still-growing network of teams around the world.

A Gay Games is a very special next time. Each host city offers unique opportunities to celebrate and showcase the premier multi-sport world championships for LGBT adults and our friends.

Cleveland and Akron take the Gay Games to locations not commonly associated with the main centers of LGBT culture and activism – and that’s what makes this an important Gay Games. Every registered participant sends positive messages about sports and culture to people who’ve rarely or never pondered ideas of the LGBT community outside of a sexual context.

Yet we’re not giving up anything in the way of facilities in Cleveland and Akron – the sport and culture venues are superb with managers eager to host our events. Participants in sports like football, golf and athletics will be well taken care of and greeted warmly in Akron.

At the main hub in Cleveland, swimmers will enjoy what is arguably the fastest pool ever for a Gay Games. Diving will also be at CSU, and water polo is just a 15 minute bus ride east at Case Western University’s newly renovated pool (I hear Toronto is turning out in force for water polo). Open water swimmers will compete over half-mile, one-mile or two-mile distances at Edgewater Park in Lake Erie. And, as is now traditional, we’ll tickle the public’s and each other’s funny bones with the Pink Flamingo talent show event.

This time is Cleveland and Akron’s time to shine. Organizers are finalizing plans to showcase our talents and abilities not only to their region but to the world. If you’ve been on the fence about registering, I hope you’ll decide to join us for Gay Games 9 – and not wait until next time!

IGLA Goes All Out!

IGLA is excited to go all out at Gay Games 9 Presented by Cleveland Foundation in Cleveland and Akron. Right now use the code IGLA14 to get $30 off of your base registration fee until May 31.

IGLA is also giving away a Gay Games Registration package to one man and one woman. The terms of the contest are as follows:

Create a video, meme, Facebook post, Google + post, Twitter post, you tube video, tumblr post, photo collage, or other presentation about your favorite ménage à trois – you, IGLA and Gay Games 9.

social media

The post/video/whatever that gets the most likes, thumbs up, retweets, reblogs will entitle the winners, one male and one female (as self identified) to receive an IGLA Gay Games 9 Registration package.

The package includes:

  1. Base registration fee reimbursement (not to exceed $195.00)
  2. Sport fee for one of the following: Diving, Open Water, Synchro, Swimming, or Water Polo.
  3. IGLA Hoodie (These sold out at IGLA 2013).

The rules:

  1. After creating your post/video/whatever submit links to your submission to iglagoesallout@IGLA.org
  2. Include “IGLA Goes All Out” in the title and use the hashtags #IGLAGoesAllOut and #GoAllOut. For example “IGLA Goes All Out – Juanita Wants You”
  3. You may post/share the same content on multiple platforms and the aggregate likes/thumbs up will be used to assess your score. The content on multiple social media platforms must be substantially the same or clearly integrated. Unintegrated submissions will be treated as separate submissions.
  4. Collaboration in groups, teams, etc. is allowed, however, only one indivudal registration package will be awarded to a team or group submission.
  5. Teams may and are encouraged to promote or highlight individual or group entries.
  6. Proof of Gay Games Registration purchase required prior to award.
  7. Award is transferable by request and upon approval of the IGLA Board.
  8. Many will enter, 2 will win.
  9. By entering this contest, you grant IGLA a nonexclusive license to use your post/video/etc. to promote IGLA and the Gay Games.
  10. Contest ends July 19, 2014.

Questions regarding the Contest and rules can be directed to Webmaster@IGLA.org.

90 Reasons to Register for Gay Games 9
Register by May 31

Register Now for Gay Games 9


Paris International Tournament

AQUAHOMO and PARIS AQUATIQUE, and on behalf of the French Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation (FSGL), are pleased to invite our IGLA fellow members and board at our Tournoi International de Paris – Paris International Tournament ;-)

Website: http://paris-tournament.com/

Date: 6-9 June 2014

Location: Paris, France

More than 2000 people expected to participate among 24 sports. Welcoming party in the heart of Paris, a place dedicated to us with show and performance.400 swimmers only for Swimming race, Synchronized Swimming, Diving and Water Polo An unforgettable Closing party

Prague Rainbow Spring 2014


Every year we welcome LGBT athletes here in Prague. Every year we make new friends, every year we can’t wait to see you. But 2014 is going to be something special —our 15th anniversary. Come back to play with us again, come back to celebrate with us.

Let’s LIVE IT UP together! Prague, May 1-4, 2014,

This year, we have chosen a 25 meters swimming pool (3,5 – 1,2 m deep), situated in a University sport center in a quiet part of Prague, easily reachable with the city rail.

Registration is now opened at our website: www.praguerainbow.eu/swimming.html

Looking forward to seeing you in Prague

Alcedo Prague Team

IGLA Statement in Support of Russian LGBT Community

The Russian LGBT Sports Federation is hosting the Russian Open Games in Moscow from February 26, 2014 to March 2, 2014 immediately following the Winter Olympics in Sochi and prior to the Paralympics. The Russian Open Games has the goal of promoting sports among the LGBT community and its supporters and swimming will be one of the 8 competitions.

As we should all be well aware, Russia recently passed legislation that bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.” What speech and activities constitute propaganda are unclear and the law has been implemented to ban not only gay pride parades but also any demonstration raising awareness of the plight of LGBT people in Russia. The law has had the secondary effect of declaring open hunting season on the LGBT community by placing an official stamp of disapproval on it. This state-sanctioned stigma has resulted in job loss, gay baiting, and police indifference to violent hate crimes against LGBT folk.

The unambiguous, express language of the Olympic Charter states “[a]ny form of discrimination … on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise, is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement.” The International Olympic Committee had an opportunity to stay true to its charter and call to task its 2014 host nation. Instead the IOC has whitewashed Russia’s regime claiming that it is not in violation of the Olympic Charter, and in any case, the Olympics is not a political forum. The IOC has warned both the athletes and spectators not to engage in any form of political protest or demonstration during the Winter Olympics. This seems to include wearing rainbow flags or holding hands.

While other nations, notably in Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East, may have a more chilling human rights record with respect to their LGBT citizens, Russia is now the focus of international attention due to the Olympics, which presents a unique opportunity to raise global awareness of a persecuted sexual minority. The controversy will not end as the World Cup will be held in Russia in 2018 and in Qatar in 2022, where men can be jailed for up to three years for homosexual acts.

The International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Association expresses its unambiguous support to the Russian LGBT Sports Federation and all LGBT individuals in Russia. We are shocked and concerned with the events as they are unfolding there and we admire the courage and resilience of Russia’s LGBT community in the face of persecution and personal violence. You are not alone.

The IGLA Board of Directors

TNYA Swim and Dive Camp

The TNYA swim and dive camp will be held in Fort Lauderdale 23 to 29 March and is $300 that includes all workouts, video analysis, clinics, plus two social functions.

The camp is open to all swimmers – we have a great range of paces from elite to beginners. We also have diving and for real keen beans we offer both sport for $450.  Registration link is here: https://www.clubassistant.com/club/cl.cfm?c=592 and any questions can be sent to camp@tnya.org.

We also have a group rate at the Marriott across the road from the pool: $189 plus tax per night for up to 4 people.  They just need to quote TNYA when booking through the hotel.