Finding community in Melbourne’s LGBTI swimming club

Finding community in Melbourne’s LGBTI swimming club
Image: Glamourhead Sharks. Image: Supplied.

When they’re not in the water or frocking up in drag, the Glamourhead Sharks have their eyes set on the Paris Gay Games next year. Jess Jones caught up with the team to find out more.


Melbourne’s LGBTI swim club, the Glamourhead Sharks, has it all – competition, socialising, and even a cheeky bit of drag.

Paul Whelan has been involved with club, affectionately known as the Glams, for about four years.

“I was swimming with a couple of friends and looking for something a little bit more structured,” says Whelan.

“I wanted to improve my swimming and I was also looking for an alternative to ‘the scene’, and a friend recommended the Glams to me.”

The club is made up of swimmers of all ages from early twenties to almost 80 years old.

Whelan says the club is a real cross-section of the queer community, and that he has so much in common with the other members.

“I’ve never experienced any other kind of forum where I might be having dinner after training with a 21-year-old guy and a 61-year-old woman, having so much in common, and actually learning a lot about people that way,” he says.

Whelan says the club focuses on both competition and socialising, and there is a big social element to competing, especially when the club travels together. They participate in national and international swimming competitions, including the Gay Games and Out Games.

“This year we went to the Out Games in Miami, and next year we’re going to the Gay Games in Paris,” says Whelan.

“Our long-term focus for training is looking at Paris now. It’s so much fun, going on a holiday with 12 of your mates!”

Whelan speaks highly of the club coaches and says he’s confident the team will be more than prepared for the Gay Games. They’re stepping up their training to include an extra weekly session, and working on raising funds to cover the cost.

The Glams’ next fundraiser event is a trivia night on Saturday September 23. The theme of the night is glamour, of course, and it will be hosted by drag power couple Johnny Gash and Donatella Wyfe—Whelan’s alter ego.

“We’re going to bring an element of fun to the hosting of the night,” he says.

Representatives from some of the other queer sporting clubs will put on a drag show at the trivia night.

“We’ve found there’s always somebody willing to don a dress and a wig and make a fool of themselves for the purposes of everyone’s entertainment,” laughs Whelan.

“We’re always keen to dress up and be silly.”

Check out the Melbourne Glamourheads on Facebook for more information about the club and its trivia night.

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