The conversations of life

A state championship swim team with an average age of 90? Yes, it’s true


And they’re out to break a national record. The 360 squad of swimmers from Sydney will attempt a 4×50 metre freestyle relay at the state championships in Homebush this weekend.

It’s the first time a male 360 team has tried to break the record.

To qualify as a 360 squad, all of the members’ ages must add up to 360.

The team had planned to tackle the record last September, but lost one of their members – 93-year-old breaststroker John-William Steen – who passed away the day before the race.

Now the swimmers – John Sheridan, 92; Ossie Doherty, 91; and Max Van Gelder, 87 – are going for gold again with new member Ray McGimpsey, 90, who was recruited by Mr Sheridan at his retirement village.

Going for gold

“The main thing is it’s fun and if we get a good result out of it, then it makes it even better,” Mr Van Gelder told the ABC.

Their race co-ordinator, John Pagden, certainly credits swimming for the team’s ‘joie de vivre’.

“I think people are living longer and in the old days, people would be swimming at 20, stop swimming at 30, die at 50,” he told 7.30 last year.

“Today people keep swimming all the way through and I think that makes them live longer – and that’s really what it’s all about.”

Think about this. Many retirement villages have swimming pools designed for hydrotherapy and aqua aerobics to keep you fit and moving.

We wish them luck.

With a background in nursing, Annie has spent over 20 years working in the health industry, including the coordination of medical support for international TV productions and major stadium events, plus education campaigns with a number of national health organisations. In recent years, she has also taken time out of the workforce to be a full-time carer, giving her first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of this role.

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