SINCE its establishment over a decade ago Melbourne’s Glamourhead Sharks LGBTI swim club has done more than help people become better swimmers.

Founded in 2001 by swimmers interested in attending the 2002 Gay Games, the Glamourheads have since grown into one of the city’s largest masters swimming clubs competing in local, national and international events.

44-year-old Leonie Dodds, who rediscovered swimming in 2008 courtesy of the Glamourheads, told the Star Observer she credits the club with rediscovering her mojo and zest for life.

“Once I came out of my deep depression, my friends encouraged me to go and watch the Glamourheads swim,” Dodds recalled.

“Everyone was so lovely and I was hooked. Some of my dearest and most wonderful friends are people I’ve met swimming with the club.”

After two years in the club, Dodds was encouraged by teammates to try an open water swim at Point Lonsdale and now she says she’s hooked.

“I’m still frustratingly slow, but the sense of satisfaction that comes with swimming one-to-five kilometres in the open water just can’t be beaten,” she said.

Another highlight came in 2011, when Dodds competed in the Asia Pacific Outgames in Wellington, winning a gold medal in the 1500m race.

“It was the most amazing feeling of achievement and it still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it,” she said.  “Whenever I turned to take a breath, I could see my partner Sal cheering me on and other Glams clapping and encouraging me.”

Late last month, despite feeling “queasy and shaky and really scared” Dodds also successfully attempted her first 5km open swim event during the Mt Martha swim on Australia Day.

“I have competed in the pool as a member of a team, I have travelled and competed for my country and community, I have become a serving member of the team committee and I have swum 5km out in the open water,” she said.

“I have met some of the most beautiful men and women you could ever hope to meet and all since I turned 39.”

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