Games swimmer dies on 92nd birthday

Michael Tunnicliffe. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Michael Tunnicliffe. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A Masters Games athlete died in Dunedin after competing in the sport he loved on his 92nd birthday.

Michael Tunnicliffe, of Feilding, was a renowned swimmer and he was again in his element at Dunedin’s Moana Pool on Friday when he suffered from a medical problem while competing.

He died after being taken by ambulance to Dunedin Hospital in a critical condition.

His widow, Fay Tunnicliffe, said she was shocked after what had been a nice day.

"He had a beautiful, happy day on his 92nd birthday," Mrs Tunnicliffe said.

"It was the best way for him to go — he loved his swimming."

Mrs Tunnicliffe was thankful for the efforts made by pool attendants and the Masters Games volunteers.

"We couldn’t have had better care and attention."

Her husband’s birthday had been acknowledged at the Games earlier in the day.

A Games spokeswoman said support had been offered to his family and the rest of the evening’s races were cancelled.

The Masters Games had its closing ceremony last night after nine days of competition attracted thousands of people.

Mr Tunnicliffe’s efforts at past Games attracted media attention.

After a 10-medal haul in 2021, he told the Manawatu Guardian he was not a fast swimmer.

Asked if he was a good swimmer, he paused and said, "for my age".

Mr Tunnicliffe had swum in the Masters Games since 1999, when he also competed in dancing and tennis, the newspaper reported.

The New Zealand Herald reported last year he was still training three times a week.

He also spearheaded a fundraising campaign for an indoor pool at Feilding’s Makino Aquatic Centre ahead of its opening in 1992.