Legend status after four-sport career
Ann Fowler is finally being recognised for her unique sporting record that saw her represent New Zealand in four codes.
She is about to be inducted as a Hutt Valley Sports Awards legend, joining the likes of Andy Leslie, Jill Westenra, Mark Sorenson and Naomi Shaw.
At Upper Hutt College, Ann Jackson, as she was known then, was selected to represent New Zealand at waterpolo. Within five years she was the national captain.
She also represented New Zealand in marathon swimming (winning the Australian long distance title) and surf life saving. Despite a busy schedule she won numerous national life saving titles.
After having a family, which includes professional footballer Dan Keat, she took up triathlons and came 13th at the 1994 World Championship.
At the same world champs she won a silver medal in the team’s event. In 19th place was another local great, Jill Westenra.
Triathlon was just emerging as a professional sport and at the world champs, she earned her first cheque, $1300.
Remarkably, Fowler’s main sport at college was competitive swimming, which she competed in with success at a national level.
Upper Hutt did not have a pool and she had to go to Tawa, where she met members of the Paeka¯ka¯riki Lifesaving Surf Club.
Being highly competitive she was drawn to lifesaving and soon found it was a sport she really enjoyed.
At school, she did well at waterpolo but was forced to make a hard choice.
‘‘I left school so that I could go to the World Waterpolo Championship. In those days you had to pay to compete for New Zealand.’’
Her marathon swimming career coincided with the period Phil Rush was hugely successful. His success generated a number of events, including the Cook Strait Relay, which had a high profile. Ann competed in that as well as a race across Wellington Harbour.
It is not only as a participant that Fowler made her mark. She spent more than 20 years as the sports co-ordinator at Chilton St James College in Lower Hutt.
Helping develop talent gave her a lot of pleasure and some of the girls she worked with went on to big things, particularly New Zealand hockey player Honor Dillon.
Other notables Melanie Clelland included (running), Laura Robertson (orienteering), Emily McGill (swimming), Rebecca Keat (triathlons), Lucy Garner (athletics, volleyball) and Briar Palmer (football).
At 55, Fowler still enjoys running and playing social volleyball, and recently took up golf.
‘‘It is the most frustrating game in the whole wide world, but is fun.’’
She is not the only local woman to have represented New Zealand in four sports. Trish Hina played softball, rugby, rugby league and touch internationally and is also a Hutt Valley Legend.