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Why aging makes Master Swimmers feel younger

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image Jean Allen, president of the Sun City Center Master Swim Club and Jean Troy, winner of more than 19 new national titles, 12 of which set world records, said swimming is something that is good for everybody no matter how old they are. Photo Penny Fletcher

It’s something you can do from the time you’re six months old for as long as you’re able.

By PENNY FLETCHER

SUN CITY CENTER- Unlike many others over 65, members of the Sun City Center Swim Club often broadcast their age.

“When I turned 40 I thought- oh no, 40,” said award-winning master swimmer Jean Troy. Just saying it made her laugh. “Now when I have a birthday, I broadcast my age.”

Troy made no secret of the fact that she’s 85. That’s because she’s just entered the 85-to-89 age group in swimming championship races and that makes her the new kid on the block. She’s the “baby” of the group and for awhile, she says that gives her a leg up on her competition.

Jean Allen, who serves as the current president of the group, is also a champion swimmer, as are many other members.

Allen says it’s great exercise because it’s not weight-bearing and is easier on the joints. “You can get as much out of it as you put in,” she commented, adding it’s something you can do from the time you’re six months old for as long as you’re able.

One club member, Cliff Eastwood, 91, just took First Place in the Florida State Senior Games 50, 100, 200 and 500 yard events. “He’s the Energizer Bunny,” Allen said.

Jim Pitts also placed First in the 100 and 500 Freestyle and Second in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle in those same state-wide games.

“Many of our members are award-winning champions,” Allen said.

The club has two groups, the Competitive Swimmers, who practice Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 6-to-8 a.m. and the Fitness Swimmers, who swim on those same days from 8-to-9 a.m.

None are beginners and most have won competitions.

“But Jean’s our star,” Allen (who has won many awards, including some in Nationals) said.

Troy does have quite a record. In fact, she’s brought home so much Gold she doesn’t remember it all.

“I started swimming in a pool that had been a WPA Project when I was about 10,” she said. North Carolina where she grew up didn’t have many pools during that time, and she says she is grateful to have lived near one that was built as part of the government work project during the Great Depression.

But she wasn’t serious about her swimming until she and her husband Ed retired to Sun City Center 10 years ago.

“I was 75 before I really got serious about my swimming,” she said. Before coming to Sun City Center she and her husband sailed for 13 years, especially in and around the Bahamas.

She says aging doesn’t bother her anymore because she can always look forward to entering a new competitive age group and being the youngest “new blood.”

“This (swimming) can really keep you motivated,” she said.

Some of her achievements include setting 19 new records for 85-to-89 year old women in 2012. Of the 19, 11 were world records and six were national records.

“National competitions are held in yards, and world competitions are in meters so some records don’t count toward world-wide,” she explained.

If they did count, Troy would have even more titles than she does now, Allen said.

In 2007 Troy set 13 new world records and in 2002 she swam in a Masters World Champion Meet in Christ Church, New Zealand, where she won five Gold Medals and set four new world records for women in her age group. For this, her photograph appeared in Sports Illustrated magazine.

What’s mentioned here is only a partial list, she said.

Allen said that any Sun City Center resident who wishes to inquire about joining or learn more about the club may show up at the indoor pool in the Atrium building on the days and hours mentioned earlier in this story.

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