Jane Asher (GBR)
Honor Masters Swimmer (2004)
INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: World Points – 1370, Pre-1986 Points – 0, Total Points – 1370; Since 1983, she has competed in 4 age groups (55-59 thru 70-74); 52 FINA MASTERS WORLD RECORDS;
Jane Asherwas born in ‘Nkana, Northern Rhodesia in 1931, but grew up in South Africa, loving the water and having swimming access anytime, anywhere. At the age of 22, she moved to Britain to take a post-graduate diploma in personnel management at Manchester University in 1953. She swam on the university swim team and was selected to compete at the World University Games but was unable to attend the meet. Swimming was becoming her life’s passion and although there were no more competitions for her personally in the mid-1950s, she began coaching the school children of her new home town area in Norwich.
Jane realized the swimming advantage she had had as a child living in South Africa. The children of Britain did not have the same access to water privileges Jane had. During World War II and shortly before her arrival, Britain’s beaches were covered with barbed wire, and with what few pools there were, pool swimming time was at a premium. So, Jane started to work as a teacher and coach of school children in her area, beginning with the very basics of the sport.
In her early coaching days, her family lived in a small country village where Robbie, her husband, was the veterinarian and the local high school had a small pool eight yards by sixteen yards. She started a small club for the children and was also working as the coach of the county team three evenings a week. Children from outlying villages came into Norwich for training sessions at the Long Stratton School and Swimming Club. During the next ten years, she coached at the Norwich Penguins and then in 1980 at her own private, non-profit making training sessions at the Norwich High School. She called it the JETS (Jane’s Extra Training School) and children came from miles around.While parents waited for their children during training sessions, Jane thought they could spend their time better in the water than on poolside. Thus began the nucleus of the first Masters swim club of the Amateur Swimming Association (A.S.A.) of Great Britain.
Jane became the catalyst and organized the setting up of the East Anglian Swallow Tail (E.A.S.T.) Club, named for a butterfly which only breeds in Norwich. Many of the swimmers not only were coached by Jane in this new club, they had been coached by her years before in high school.
In 1992, Jane and a few E.A.S.T. members successfully ran a seminar specifically for Masters and since then, Jane has been asked to do seminars all over the country. She started a training camp in the French Alps, maybe the first for Masters at high altitude. As she says, “My specialty is technique. The fitness comes from climbing up and down the steps to the pool!” Nearly everything she does for Masters swimming is on a voluntary basis. Swimmers pay for the pool hire and arrange their own transport and accommodation. She feels the camaraderie gained is full compensation for any effort on her behalf.
But while Jane is doing all this for others, she is also, unselfishly, doing for herself what her swimmers are reaching to get – world success in swimming. Since 1986, she has set 49 FINA Masters World Records in the freestyle, I.M. backstroke and sprint butterfly events in the 55-59 through 70-74 age groups. She has won gold medals 26 times at FINA Masters World Championships, 36 at Masters European Championships, 6 at Masters Pan Pacifics, and 95 at British Masters National Championships. She has set 76 Masters European Championship records and 117 BritishMasters national records. She has goldmedals at the National Championships of Britain, Scotland, Wales, France, and Holland. When she turned 70 in 2001, she traveled Britain and Europe to try to swim every long and short course event available. The results – she broke all the British records and awhole lot ofWorld and European records too. Even after total hip replacement in 2002, her times continue to drop. There is life after surgery. Jane has received the Cherriman Trophy for service to Masters Swimming. She has provided great strides in promoting Masters Swimming as a swimmer, coach, clinician, organizer and enthusiast in Britain, European and World swimming.