Swimmer's medal haul in touching tribute to mother
WHEN Brett Woods was on the podium collecting his medals for winning numerous races at the recent Pan Pacific Games, it was a bitter sweet moment for the Karana Downs resident.
While the swimming champion was pleased he had come away from the games with a number of records and gold medals, he was also sad his mother wasn't there to cheer him on.
His mum, Sylvia Woods, passed away on October 22, just weeks before the Pan Pacific Games were held on the Gold Coast from November 2-11.
"My mum was my biggest supporter," an emotional Mr Woods said.
"I set myself a goal for the Pan Pacifics to win every race and break every record, which I did.
"But, leading into the meet, I wasn't in a great frame of mind. I was devastated about my mum's passing.
"When I jumped in, I felt like I hadn't been in the pool for six months, compared to a few weeks earlier when I was feeling great.
"My mum was definitely in my thoughts and her not being there was very tough."
Throughout the nine days of competition, Mr Woods won a total of nine gold medals. He won the 50m butterfly, 50m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle and 200m freestyle.
He also swam in four relays with his team from the University of Queensland, which came in first every time.
He dedicated his wins to his number-one fan.
"There was someone at the games who was engraving medals. I got my medals engraved with a phrase my mum always used to say before I raced. She would say 'do your puffing at the end'.
"So I put 'I did my puffing at the end mum. Love you forever. Your son, Brett'.
"That is something I will always remember."
Sylvia had been her son's swimming instructor and coach when he first dived into the water when he was four-years-old.
She was a swimming coach at the old pool which was in Limestone Park before building her own 20m pool in the backyard of her Vivian St home, in Eastern Heights, in 1978.
She operated her own swimming school until the 1990s.
"I was the first person to ever swim in that pool," Mr Woods said.
"Mum was a coach so she had her own swimming squad. The 20m, three-lane pool would have at least seven or eight people swimming in each lane.
"Between Monday to Friday, there could be 25 people swimming at once.
"Then later on she did learn-to-swim classes as well. She would have taught thousands of people during the 16 or 17 years she had the pool.
"My mum loved being in the water and passing on her skills to others."
Sylvia and her husband, Harold, were both life members of the Railway Swimming Club.
"Mum and dad are life members of Railways and, at one stage, I was the captain," Mr Woods said.
"I think there were about seven or eight members from Railways who came to the funeral, which was lovely."
Being in the water was a way of life for the Woods family.
"Mum could swim but I don't think she competed very often," Mr Woods said.
"When I was searching for photographs to show at the funeral, I came across a picture of her swimming and she wrote a small note on it saying 'do as I say, not as I do'. We all had a laugh at that.
"But mum did love going to the beach and going body surfing.
"We used to race and catch the waves and see who could go the furtherest.
"Whoever won the race got one cent. I think mum let me win a few times because once I came away with 13 or 14 cents."
Sylvia's other love in life, apart from the pool, was her family.
She met her husband, Harold, when she joined a softball team and he was the coach.
They had two children, Brett and his older sister, Sherri.
"Mum and dad were both big supporters of whatever we were doing," Mr Woods said.
"I can count on one hand the amount of times they didn't come to something we were doing.
"My sister was an Australian swimming champion when she was young but then she branched off into motorsport.
"She races V8 sprint cars at the raceway and drives monster trucks.
"But mum and dad were always there and, when the grandkids came along, they were there at swimming meets and netball games."
Sylvia suffered dementia for four years before her passing.
She is survived by her husband, two children, three grandkids and three great-grandkids.