Published On: May 2, 2024

John Wood of Great Britain at Madeira 2023 – European Aquaticschnical 

By Nick Hope
Aquatics correspondent

British champion John Wood is among those eagerly anticipating the 2024 European Aquatics Masters Championships in Belgrade, with the swimmer keen to sample both competition and culture in Serbia.

The 37-year-old, who swims for Bristol Henleaze in the UK, claimed three gold medals – in in lifetime personal bests – at Madeira 2023, the inaugural European Masters Short Course Swimming Championships.

He will be seeking further success in Serbia, this time in the 50m long course pool. “I’m really looking forward to Belgrade ’24 because Serbia is very much on my list of places to visit and explore,” Wood tells European Aquatics.

“That’s one of the benefits of choosing where to compete, getting to absorb culture, see the views and enjoy incredible different food.

“Euro Masters is always a competition to build a year around and the venue looks amazing too!”

There is still the chance to join him at the event which runs from 26 June to 6 July, with REGISTRATION OPEN for swimming, but also open water swimming, artistic swimming, diving and water polo.


Wood began racing at the age of eight and was a successful swimmer in his youth, competing internationally both in the pool and in open water events as a teenager.

He won the World Cup Open Water event in London in 2003 and also raced in the British Olympic trials the following year.

By 2007 he was also beginning to break into triathlon which for many years became his main focus, before a return to swimming and taking on his first European Aquatics Masters Championships, at the London Aquatics Centre, in 2016.

He was recently the eldest competitor at the 2024 British Olympic trials where he took part in the 100m butterfly event.

“There were a bit of nerves, but I really enjoyed being on a big stage,” Wood tells European Aquatics.

“It’s quite funny being 20 years older than everyone else in my heat and it being 20 years since the last time I did (Olympic) trials, but I tried to ignore that just enjoy the big event.”


Attitude is an important element behind his progress, but the swimmer also admits that he has reaped the rewards since making significant switches to his regime.

“The club that I train with are very sprint-based and when I was swimming, up to 21, I was doing a lot of distance stuff,” reveals Wood, who is also a triathlon coach and model.

“I still like the distance stuff, but we’re only swimming two-three times a week so we’re doing a lot in the gym and a lot more than I’ve ever done.

“Last summer our club didn’t swim because it’s in a school pool, so I was the gym four-times a week and running three-times a week to make up for it.

“I’m stronger and I’m still doing PB’s (personal bests) at 37, so yeah it’s amazing and it’s a pleasure to try and test myself.”


Masters swimmer John Wood recently compete at the British Olympic trials in London

While Wood clearly has ambitions at the upper end of masters swimming, he has also rediscovered the mentality he had in his youth – before competitive racing took over.

“I coach triathlon and a bit of swimming as well and what I say to everyone else is to ‘have fun’ and I try to take that on board myself,” he tells European Aquatics.

“I remember a conversation I had maybe 15 years ago when I was doing my swim coaching (badges) and there was a 60-year-old lady in the water and she said ‘water is a way of life’ and it so is.

“Even if you only do it once a week, dropping down from eight sessions, swimming a way of life and a part of you.”


Wood aims to be ‘fly the flag’ for Great Britain at Belgrade 2024

Wood plans to race in the 50m and 100m butterfly, as well as the 50m and 200m freestyle events individually, while also taking on men’s and mixed relays with his team, Bristol Henleaze, in Belgrade.

He says “it would be nice to see if I can get in among the medals there,” after silver and bronze medals at previous editions of European and World Masters Championships.

“My message? Just to keep pushing yourself,” continues the British champions swimmer.

“I won’t say there’s no limit as we all have physical limits, but there are opportunities for you to be able to push yourself and be quicker than you were five-ten years ago.

“Whether it’s to keep getting fitter and stronger, or maintain that fitness as you get older, there’s something for everyone.”

If you’re a pool, open water or artistic swimmer, water polo player or diver, you can John at the European Aquatics Masters Championships (26 June to 6 July) by REGISTERING HERE.