Tribute to the World Games 2022

Finswimming 27.05.2022

As it is already known this year, the sport of Finswimming, participates in the organization of the World Games, which are held in Birmingham, USA. It is a multisport event held under the auspices of the International World Games Association (IWGA). CMAS is a founding participant member of the IWGA since 1982 and for this reason the sport of finswimming is present in all organisations since 1985.

Starting this tribute we want to honor the athlete who has won the most medals in this event mr. Jurgen Kolenda (GER). 

Can you introduce yourself : tell us about your finswimmer carreer, and the after sport carreer ? Are you still swimming now ?

JK: As I am already 61 years old, I try to make it short:

  • Born 1961 in Berlin
  • Started swimming / snorkelling in 1967
  • First Scuba diving license in 1973 (that was legal these days)
  • First Finswimming competition in 1974
  • German Champion in 50 m Apnoea in 1977
  • World Champion in 100 Finswimming in 1980
  • Four gold medals on the first World Games 1981 in Santa Clara (USA)
  • World Record in 50 meters Apnoea in 1982, lasting 8 years
  • Seven gold medals on the second World Games 1985 in London
  • End of my international career in 1987 with 21 medals on World- and European Championships
  • Member of the National Team in the World Championship in Orienteering 1985
  • First Marathon in less than 3 hours in 1988
  • PhD in Laser & Atmospheric Physics in 1993
  • German Champion in Underwater Rugby in 2004
  • Since 2004 working for Coherent Inc. (Headquarter Santa Clara!) as Laser sales engineer, living in Frankfurt
  • From 2007 till 2011 head of the sports committee of the German diving federation
  • Since 2016 married Ira (finally)
  • Was always amazed by diving reports from pioneers like Jacques Cousteau and Hans Hass (whom I meet in person)
  • in principle I still love and enjoy swimming with (rubber) fins and snorkelling after 50 years with many wonderful memories and encounters but the opportunities have been pretty limited the last two years unfortunately…

Can you share with us your World Games experience?

During the opening ceremony in Santa Clara the little Finswimming community meets Arnold Schwarzenegger who already was a Hollywood star representing (not competing) for Body Building that was an official sport at the first world Games (till 2009). The combination with pure professional sport was one of the reasons for the Soviet federation not to participate these times.

The opening ceremony with 8000 spectators was pretty new to Finswimming athletes who were used to compete in front of much smaller crowds these days.

The second World Games in London was already a much bigger event with more competitions and I managed to complete my 11 gold medals!

Do you know that you are the most medalled athlete of the history of The World Games? You are like our "Michael Phelps" :) How do you feel about it?

For sure, I was a pretty successful athlete but would not compare myself with Michael Phelps - who is one of the biggest Olympic athletes of all times!

My idols always have been two sportsmen, with a complete different profession / capability: Ronnie O`Sullivan (Snooker) and Valentino Rossi (MotoGP). I was always amazed by their skills that I never even come close to and also by their personality – I never was an adapted athlete and always questioned things (back in 1979 I was a punk rocker) …

What was your goal when you were a finswimmer? Do you agree to say that you achieve it?

When I started, I never would have dreamed to be so successful in many areas but I never had a specific goal other than improving myself and push the limits

Do you have a specific topic you want to talk about?

The major aspect of my sporting career was that even if not being in bright public (like a Tennis player i.e.), I gained a huge self-confidence and satisfaction from what I achieved – would always do it exactly the same!

Today, working as a specialist for short-pulse lasers, even a few noble price winners are among my customers: so I had (and have) a pretty satisfactory life – not at least thanks to Finswimming!!




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