Team of seniors ready to swim in Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic

Five swimmers, ages 65 to 97, among first-time competitors

The Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic is back for another year.

LONGWOOD, Fla. – The Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic is back for another year.

In a few days, Orlando will see some top athletes compete in the swimming tradition at the YMCA Aquatic Center.

Among the competitors are five first-timers between the ages of 65 to 97.

"Considering my age, which is 97, I feel great," Robert Geller, a retired accountant, said.

[RELATED: Nonprofit begins work to give Orlando seniors new roofsNonprofit organization helps senior citizens stay in their homes]

Geller is part of the Village on the Green retirement community's swim team. For the past few months, they've been preparing for the competition.

"All I started out was joining the swim team here and the next thing I find out, we're involved in an international competition," Geller said about the three-day swim meet.

The team is being coached by Helen Fisher, who is participating in the event alongside the team.

"I look and see what works best for them and as they get in the water and they swim, and I want them to feel good about themselves when they've finished the workout," Fisher said.

The team decided to take on the new challenge because of their love for fitness.

"The most important thing is to stay active -- not only physically, but mentally," Geller said. "That's the key. You can't sit home and hibernate. That doesn't do you any good."

Village on the Green swim team will be among hundreds of competitors at the annual event founded by former American competitive swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gaines. They'll be representing seniors in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s age groups.

Jean Walker, an 85-year-old team member, said her team has been practicing and getting ready to go.

It will be an extra special day for Walker, who's waited her entire life to compete in an event like this one.

[MORE: Winter Park woman celebrates 108th birthday]

"When I was in school ... until the equal rights for women in sports came in the view in the '70s, there was no real competition for women," Walker said. "We didn't have that opportunity."

On Saturday, Oct. 12, Village on the Green swim team will dive into competition at the YMCA on International Drive, where the Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic will be taking place.

There's also an event called Lucky's Lake Swim, a 1500-meter lake swim that benefits the YMCA scholarship programs. You don't need to be competing at the meet to sign up, but you do need to sign up ahead of time. The race goes by age groups and the entry fee is $35. For more information, click here.


About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.