Seniors make big splash at state games

Swimmers from 50-95 fill pool in Olympia, take raft of awards away from 17th Washington Senior Games

Contributing writerJuly 29, 2013 

OLYMPIA — Tammy Wilson quickly downplayed her winning times.

“I’m really not that fast,” Wilson said, “but that’s not what’s important here. It’s about getting people into the pool and being active.”

Swimmers ranging from 50-years-old to 95 competed Sunday at the 17th annual Washington Senior Games at the Briggs Community YMCA.

Wilson, from Seattle, won a trio of medals, taking first place in the 100 butterfly (1 minute, 17.64 seconds), 100 breaststoke (1:22.47) and 200 IM (2:41.74).

“I’ve always been involved in this sport,” said the 55-year-old Wilson, a retired teacher who was a scholarship swimmer at the University of New Mexico. “I got burned out with swimming for a bit and tried running, but it ends up being so hard on your knees. I ended up back in the pool. It really is an amazing sport.”

Olympia’s Evelyn Hoffman was the oldest competitor at 95, winning the 50 freestyle for her age division.

“Swimming is something you can always do, no matter what age you are at,” said former Olympia mayor Bob Jacobs, who took home first place in the 200 backstroke. “You can’t say that about other sports.”

Jacobs, who served as Olympia’s mayor from 1993-99, has been swimming for 60 years. He was a competitive swimmer for Columbia University in New York.

“I was lucky enough to pick this sport growing up and it turned out to be the one sport you can do your entire life,” Jacobs said. “The great thing about this sport is you can be a newcomer as well and still have success with it.

“You don’t need to be a lifelong swimmer to benefit from it.”

Olympia’s Stephen Smith claimed four medals in the 60-64 male division.

The 62-year-old Smith won the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 IM.

Sammamish’s Carl Haynie, Mercer Island’s Bob Davis and Kirkland’s Dan Underbrink all captured a trio of first-place finishes.

“Our numbers were down a little this year,” event organizer Mel Smith said. “There’s a couple reasons for that.”

First on the list was the National Senior Games, which held its swimming competition last weekend in Cleveland.

“That had a lot to do with it,” Smith said. “I think we lost a few swimmers because of that.”

Wilson, however, was able to attend both events. She was one of 10,000 athletes at the national games the previous weekend before competing in her home state.

“The nationals are always a great experience,” said Wilson, who was a competitor at the 2009 National Senior Games at Stanford University in California. “I think events like the Senior Games definitely motivate people. It gives them something to train for. It really is a positive thing.”

The Washington Senior Games conclude this weekend with soccer at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey on Saturday and Sunday and badminton at the Lakewood Community Center.

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