Senior swimming brings out the true Olympic Spirit

The Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics are a few days away. Sports fans await the return of Michael Phelps to the swimming pool and sprinter Usain Bolt to the track. In Hemet, California, the stakes aren't so high. In fact, they're purely personal; swimmers of all ages take place in the Masters' swim program.

The Southern California swim club exist for pleasure and exerise. Bill Coles is 76 and Fred Hoppe is 84. Hoppe reaps in U.S. Masters Swimming medals like Mark Spitz collected gold.

Joan Coles, Bill’s wife, told The Presse Enterprise: “Out here in Hemet, they have the Oldlympics.” She added, “There are people in wheelchairs and who are blind and some who you’d think ought to be waiting for their funeral, but they’re competing. It’s amazing.”

Coles swam at university but left the pool for 50 years. He found himself overweight and feeling lazy. So, he jumped in the pool at Del Webb in 2008 and started swimming. He’s barely stopped since, putting in two miles per workout and winning many medals this month at the U.S. Masters Swimming Summer Nationals in Omaha, Nebraska.

Coles testifies that swimming makes him feel better. Wife Joan is even more enthusiatic, telling The Presse Enterprise: “It’s great for his health. He’s lost weight and he’s in great shape." She added: "He has more stamina and energy and it’s just wonderful all the way around. And now he’s encouraging other people at our complex to get in the pool.”

Hoppe said he needed projects to stay busy after his wife died in 2001. and to get into better physical shape. He told the media source: “I woke up one day thinking, ‘When in my life did I feel the best?’ It turned out to be 1949 and 1950 when I was in training with the University of Washington swim team. Even my grades went up significantly. Well, I told myself I will try to recapture that feeling and started seriously swimming and soon joined the Masters Swimmers. It worked.”

Hoppe said his well-toned body has caught the eye of older women.