The caffeinated athlete appreciates the schedule of the Illinois Senior Olympics. The timing of events allowed for participation in the road race and swimming on Saturday and the track meet on Sunday. After completing the 10K road race awards, I had time to go back to the hotel for a shower and a quick bite to eat before heading to the swim meet.
National Senior Games Qualifier
I had registered for specific events without knowing the order hoping to qualify for the National Senior Games in Albuquerque. The order of events showed my first two races bunched on the front end of the meet with my other races being the final three events. The 100-yard butterfly was the first event of the meet and I had signed up to swim it. It really was good for me to get this one out of the way early while I was physically and mentally fresh.
Camaraderie is Great
This was the second time I participated in the Illinois Senior Olympics swim meet and there was good blend of people I have met along with many I didn’t know. The camaraderie at senior games events is something I enjoy almost as much as the thrill of competing. I saw Mike Sappington in the parking lot and Jon Lebsack on the deck as soon as I walked in. They are good friends from the St. Louis area senior circuit. After a quick exchange of pleasantries, both were quick to let me know about the passing of our friend Bill Cannon.
Missing William Cannon
Bill had fought a brief, but valiant battle with cancer. His infectious smile and relentless positivity are missed by members of the senior sports community. A photo of Bill, smiling slyly with a dozen medals around his neck, graced the main page of the Missouri Senior Games web site this year. Mike and Bill would often travel together to senior event throughout the Midwest. Bill was unable to participate in the Southeast Missouri Senior Games in Perryville this August. His instructions to Mike were, “They can keep my entry fee and medals, but I want my T-shirt.”
Several Meet Records Broken
The Illinois Senior Games swim meet was well-organized, and efficiently run. Competitors came ready to perform with several people beating meet records including;
Larry Walker 100 yard freestyle, 200 yard freestyle, 100 yard backstroke, and 200 yard backstroke
Mark Brandt 100 yard breaststroke and 500 yard freestyle
Ann Emmrich 100 yard backstroke and 100 yard individual medley
Kari Kennedy 200 yard freestyle and 500 yard freestyle
Nick Merrill 200 yard freestyle and 100 yard breaststroke
Henrietta Berning 50 yard breaststroke
Betty Burfeind 200 yard individual medley
Lex Pegues 200 yard backstroke
Thomas Maine continues to be an inspiration to me. At ninety-three year of age, Tom still dives off the blocks and never chooses the easiest events to swim. This year he took gold in the 50 yard butterfly, 100 yard butterfly, 200 yard breaststroke, 100 yard backstroke, and 200 yard backstroke. It’s true that there isn’t much competition in his age group, but Tom’s times were faster than several of the younger swimmers. An interesting sidebar about this year’s Illinois Senior Games was Tom and his daughter both swam in the meet.
It was good to see Marty Morris swimming at the senior games meet. Marty was the director of the road race earlier that morning. He was also a judge for the discus throw and entertainment at the senior games banquet. Such enthusiastic participation by a volunteer makes it possible for all of us to compete. Brian Ferrell was another enthusiastic participant, competing in the swim meet, several track and field events and a variety of other sports and activities. It encourages me to participate with such a large group of people at events where age is an entry requirement but not a limiter.
Comfortable, Steady Pace
Meet officials and volunteers helped the event to move at a comfortable, steady pace. Comfortable and steady is the best way to describe my performance in the 500 yard freestyle. It was the last event of the meet and fell just after the 200 yard breaststroke and 100 yard freestyle. I had pushed myself in both of those races and was pleased with the results. So I punched my ticket to Albuquerque and look forward to training and preparing for the National Senior Games.