Darle Shouse was joined by his three granddaughters when he made the trip to Minneapolis for the two-week 2015 National Senior Games where he earned the bronze medal in the 200 yard backstroke.
This marked the 82-year olds fifth time qualifying for nationals.
“I’ve always enjoyed swimming,” the retired pharmacist said. “In 2003 a friend who had been involved in it told me I should think about competing. I didn’t consider myself that good, but when I went I medaled and really liked it. I didn’t know about senior games and a lot of people don’t, but now that I swim as part of my exercise therapy four mornings a week I thought if I’m going to do all this I might as well enjoy some friendly competition.”
Shouse has always been active but it wasn’t until his late 60’s when he started competing.
“It motivates me. In January when I’m swimming at the Y I’m thinking, ‘Why do I want to swim today?’ But then I think of the national games coming up in July and that’s a great motivation. It keeps me going and gives me a goal.”
The senior said he’s always enjoyed the movement that comes with being in the water whether it’s the breaststroke, backstroke, or even canoeing.
“It’s worth it to me to get in the water. Since I’ve had back problems I can’t get aerobic exercise on my feet so swimming is a good alternative.”
Earning a bronze medal in a sport he enjoys was memorable, but Shouse said the highlight of the trip was having his granddaughters and one and of their husbands along with him.
“It was better than any medal,” he said. “I could hear them cheering me on; it was a treat.”
The 82-year old had some health issues in May which kept him out of the pool and a little concerned about the impending games.
“The timing was bad and I told my granddaughters that I hope I didn’t embarrass them,” he laughed. “Luckily, I was able to practice in June and get my times back. Things turned out pretty good.”
In Minneapolis, Shouse said his family kept him busy.
“When I came home I was really tired but it wasn’t from swimming. They had something planned about every hour of every day during the week, but it was fine by me. We had a terrific time,” he said.
Being there, the athlete said it’s an interesting place to pick up tips and tricks from other swimmers, many of whom swam at the collegiate level.
“I see a lot of the same people each time and it’s disappointing when you don’t. It’s a competitive bunch, but it’s always friendly competition,” he said.
Shouse believes staying active as you age is important physically and mentally.
“It’s a trite statement but ‘use it or lose it’ has a lot of truth to it. We lose muscle mass as we age, it’s going to happen whatever you do, but I think we can slow that process down a little bit by exercising. It can be walking, jogging, or riding the bike here at the Y. Swimming is great, but it’s certainly not the only thing.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.