Featured events

7-9 September 2012
Brussels Games

Brussels Gay Sports will offer a weekend of fun and fairplay in the capital of Europe, with volleyball, swimming, badminton, and tennis, as well as fitness and hiking.

Learn more HERE.
26-28 October 2012
Bern, Switzerland

The success of the first edition of the QueergamesBern proved the need for an LGBT multisport event in Switzerland. This year will be even bigger, with badminton, bowling, running, walking, floorball.

Learn more HERE.
17-20 January 2013
Sin City Shootout
Las Vegas
The 7th Sin City Shootout will feature softball, ice hockey, tennis, wrestling, basketball, dodgeball, bodybuilding and basketball.

Learn more HERE.

13-16 June 2013
IGLFA Euro Cup
After this year's edition in Budapest at the EuroGames, the IGLFA Euro Cup heads to Dublin for 2013, hosted by the Dublin Devils and the Dublin Phoenix Tigers.

Learn more HERE.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

San Francisco Tsunami celebrates 25th anniversary

Reprinted with permission from the Bay Area Reporter
10 November 2011

By Roger Brigham

It was 1986, four years after the first Gay Games in San Francisco, when Neil Hart answered an ad in the Bay Area Reporter to join a swim team that was being formed to compete in Gay Games II that year.

"I had never been successful at team sports as a kid – your typical marginalized story," Hart recalled. "I had never swum on a team or competitively before. I was swimming on my own at a North Beach pool for physical therapy. I realized I had stamina and could swim a mile, so I thought it was something I might like to try."

Despite some nervous trepidation, Hart was dropped off at the pool at Carroll and Third streets with a promise to be picked up 90 minutes later.

He's never really left.

"I met a wonderful man walking into practice, Tim Elliott," Hart said. "We both had served in the Peace Corps in different parts of the world and had never swum on a team before. We hit it off and became great friends. After the Gay Games ended Tim wanted the energy of the games to continue and pushed for the formation of a permanent swim team."

In the photo above, Neil Hart (far left) joined his fellow SF Tsunami members in front of the Walgreen window display on Castro Street. Photo: Courtesy SF Tsunami.

And thus, San Francisco Tsunami was born. The club celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, with festivities in Burlingame in September and having a team window display at the Walgreens on Castro Street in October.

The club has grown to more than 140 members, about one-sixth of them women.

"To accommodate the desire for more practices, our schedule has expanded into evening and morning swims at two public pools: Hamilton and King pools," Hart said. "We have a head coach [Matt Sorlien] and a coaching staff of nine. We also have a synchronized swim team, and Tsunami Water Polo spun off years ago and has its own board of directors."

As is the case with many LGBT sports organizations, the true legacy of Tsunami is the sports opportunity it has provided for those who otherwise would likely never have taken up sports at all.

"I really had no sports background before Tsunami," said Hart, who declined to give his age. "I learned to ski and that was a major individual achievement. Learning to swim was another major individual achievement. I was always marginalized growing up with respect to team sports – softball, touch football, stick ball were traumatic as a child. It was therefore exhilarating and life changing in 1986 to be receiving from SF Arts and Athletics letters addressed to, 'Dear Athlete' in response to my swimming in Gay Games II. I kept wondering, 'Who me, an athlete?'

"Tsunami is LGBT- and straight-friendly. I know for me I would not be swimming on a team if Tsunami did not exist, nor would I be participating in swim meets."

Some individuals come and go, but the poolside community remains the same.

"Sometimes the lane I swim in feels like Grand Hotel," Hart said. "I have watched the swimmers come and go over the years. Nevertheless, I believe the camaraderie of the team has had a lasting impact on everyone who has swum with us."

Like many of the Tsunami members, Hart plans to compete in Gay Games IX in Cleveland in 2014.

"I have swum in every Gay Games since 1986," he said. "After Tim died in 1990, I went to Vancouver with his memory. And after Vancouver when another close friend died, I kept on returning to the Gay Games every four years."

More immediately on the horizon is the next International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics championship. This year's was in Hawaii; the next championship is May 29-June 2 in Iceland.

For more information about SF Tsunami, visit http://www.sftsunami.org.

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