World masters event another shot at top competition for these water polo players from St. John's

It also provides an aopportunity for a reunion with their former mentor

Kenn Oliver koliver@thetelegram.com
Published on July 26, 2014
Water polo players (from left) Gord MacDonald, Gary Karasik, Doug Munn, Bryan Harris and Glen Crane practise at the Aquarena in St. John’s on Wednesday. The five are playing with Team Atlantica in the 50-and-over division at the FINA World Masters championships in Montreal. Their first game is Sunday.
Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Not many 50-something athletes have an opportunity to compete on an international stage, but this weekend, six members of the St. John’s Water Polo Club hit the water at the Federation International Aquatic Association (FINA) World Masters in Montreal as part of an eastern Canadian squad.
Bryan Harris, Doug Munn, Glen Crane, Gary Karasek and Gordon MacDonald are part of Team Atlantica in the 50-and-over division, while Rob Crosbie has a spot in the 55-and-over competition with the Calgary Torpedoes. The six are part of a masters’ fitness club that meets twice at week at the Aquarena.

“I don’t think the guys thought they would be in any more competitive tournaments,” said St. John’s club coach Garth Murphy, “so this is quite a way for some of the guys to finish their playing days.”

In Montreal, they’ll be reunited with former coach Jack Bailey, who is credited with bringing the sport to Memorial University in the early 1970s.

“Jack had a couple of players at national training camps for the 1976 Olympics, ” recounted Murphy.

“He was really the driving force for polo in the Maritimes and put Newfoundland in the forefront in those early years.”

Team Atlantica also includes a pair of expats in 1977 Canada Games coach Patty Whelan, now practicing medicine in Ontario but serving as the team’s goaltender for the tournament, and Vince Oharety, a member of the Canadian Forces stationed in Quebec.

Other Team Atlantica players are Nova Scotia’s Randy Currie, Mike Moriarty, Bill Cashman, John MacLean, and Peter and Harland Hastings. There’s also Ottawa’s Ian Thomas and Ralph Simpson from Rochester, N.Y.

Quebec’s Alex Martineau is Bailey’s assistant.

Team Atlantica is in a twelve-team division with entries from Europe and North America, highlighted by teams from Czechoslovakia, Santa Barbour, North Carolina and the Olympic Club of San Francisco.

The 16th annual FINA World Masters Championships was officially created about twenty five years ago by FINA and is considered their biggest competition in terms of disciplines and participation, with competitors gathering from all corners of the world. The event — which includes diving, water polo, synchronized, and open water swimming — is intended to promote fitness, friendship, understanding and competition throughout the sport.

Team Atlantica Schedule

July 27, vs. Loyola Masters

July 28, vs. KAOS Blasters San Francisco

July 29, vs. Club WP les Hydres

July 30, vs. The Olympic Club of San Francisco

July 31, vs. Dynamo Masters

Finals: Aug. 1-2