Tribute to Bill Matson

FINA Vice President Bill Matson was remembered for his more than 40 years of service to aquatics at a Memorial Service on Monday, August 15 at St Luke’s Anglican Church in Waikanae, New Zealand.  Matson had surgery during the final days of the FINA World Championships and died last Monday on his birthday at the age of 72 at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, China.

“Bill’s example and devotion for the aquatic sports will remain a reference in our mind and heart, In this moment of grief, FINA would like to express its most sincere condolences and sympathy to Bill’s family and friends, as well as to the aquatic community in his native New Zealand and Oceania,” said FINA President Julio Maglione.
“Swimming New Zealand is in mourning with the news of the passing of a man who was involved in many aspects of swimming and regarded as a friend of athletes, coaches and teachers of swimming.”  Swimming New Zealand chairman Murray Coulter said: “We had all expected he would make a speedy recovery. It’s an absolute tragedy for the family and for the sport of swimming.”

Mr. Matson had been involved in swimming administration for more than four decades, rising to become a FINA Bureau member in 1996, re-elected in 2000 and elected Vice President of FINA in 2005.  He was a Past President and Life Member of Swimming New Zealand and also of the Wellington Swimming Association.  He was President of Oceania Swimming Association from its inception in 1991 until 2008. He was a former board member on the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

Mr. Matson was appointed to the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee in 1992 and in 1996 elected as a member of the FINA Bureau. In this capacity he served as the FINA Bureau Liaison to the Open Water Swimming Committee. FINA President Maglione appointed Matson to serve as the Liaison to the Masters Committee and in this capacity he traveled to Riccione, Italy, in May to visit the aquatic venues and to oversee the organisation of the 14th edition of the FINA World Masters Championships scheduled for June 2012.  He was the FINA Protocol Officer from 1997 to 2009; this responsibility included the coordination of presenters for every swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and water polo medal presented to athletes at the FINA World Championships and at the Olympic Games.

Mr. Matson retired from the New Zealand Public Service in 1999 and at that time held the position of Deputy Secretary of Defence. In 2010 he was honoured by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II when she appointed him an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to swimming.

Mr Matson and his wife of 49 years Joan lived at Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast where they enjoyed a long association with Raumati Swimming Club. Planning had already begun for a cruise on the Nile River with friends and family to celebrate the couples golden anniversary next December on the eve of the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Turkey. Mr. Matson is survived by his wife, son Paul and daughter Susan and four grandchildren.

FINA Bureau member Dennis Miller and John West of the FINA Open Water Committee represented the international federation at Monday’s service. Mr. Matson’s innumerable contributions to each of the aquatic disciplines will be recalled by members of his sporting club, representatives of the New Zealand Swimming Federation, National Federation leaders throughout Oceania and throughout the entire family of FINA.

His greatest achievements include his dedication to his family, his loyalty to his country and the warm and open armed friendship which Bill shared with so many people worldwide.

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