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Volunteer Spotlight - Mary McFarlane

As we all know, volunteers are crucial to the success of our sport. We have decided to celebrate our volunteers, and the immense value they bring to the Otago swimming community, through a series of dedicated articles to be released monthly, highlighting the experiences of the people that make our sport possible.

If you have been to a meet in Otago, you have definitely seen or interacted with Mary McFarlane.

Mary has been a pillar in our Swimming Otago community for half a century now. Yes, you read that correctly - 50 years of volunteering with swimming in the Otago region!

Mary began her journey with swimming when her son Gregor joined Kiwi ASC in 1970, and hasn’t looked back since. Throughout these fifty years, Mary has held a variety of different roles from club president, team manager, awards committee member, and technical official. Beyond this, Mary has also held many positions within Swimming Otago; in the 80s Mary jumped between various presidency roles as well as a number of stints as regional team manager, and a number of other positions, then from the late 90s to the mid 00’s she fulfilled her role as regional trustee, and from there joined the blazer committee in 2006, and finally became the Patron of Swimming Otago in 2011.

You name it, Mary has done it.

Mary has done all this whilst consistently devoting her spare time to officiate at hundreds of meets across Otago, New Zealand, and even overseas!

As you can probably imagine, Mary’s fifty years of dedication to the sport has resulted in a long list of achievements and accolades. Mary has been awarded both Swimming New Zealand and Swimming Otago Service and Honours Awards, as well as Swimming Otago Life Membership, and managed to celebrate her birthday in a number of incredible places such as in Fiji at the Oceania Championships where she turned 80 years old. At each of the recent Division II Championships in Dunedin spectators were lucky enough to witness two of Mary’s passions combine, as she piped (bagpiped) in athletes from across the nation at the first evening session of the championships.

It is safe to say that Mary is someone we can all look up to within this community and be thankful for. She is a prime example of the opportunities that volunteering can bring and the impact your efforts can make on the community around you. Mary has positively impacted generations of swimmers across Otago and beyond - thank you Mary for everything you do, you are an inspiration to us all!


Are you interested in becoming a volunteer? Contact us for more information, we have a variety of roles to suit your skills and availability.