Pan Pacific Masters Games: Competition’s oldest competitors claim silver and gold
Don Robertson’s training regime paid dividends at the Gold Coast Pan Pacific Masters Games. (ABC News: Caitlyn Gribbin)
Like all competitive swimmers, Don Robertson has a strict training schedule — an early alarm followed by dozens of laps.
But the his regime is a little different to most.
His morning workout is held in the 10-metre pool at his Gold Coast retirement village.
“Yesterday I did 600 metres, today I’ll probably do 600, tomorrow I might do 400,” Mr Robertson said.
“It’s not speed, it’s endurance.
“I’m just swimming to get there, get from one end to the other, that’s the main thing.”
Mr Robertson is one of two 93-year-olds competing at the Pan Pacific Masters Games on the Gold Coast this week.
Reaching old age is often associated with slowing down and trying to manage the challenges that can come with it.
But Mr Robertson said getting older does not necessarily have to equal getting weaker — though it has meant removing the tumble turn from his swimming routine.
“I used to tumble, and then I got to the stage where instead of my legs coming over I’d just go straight down to the bottom,” he said.
“So I don’t tumble any more!”
No stranger to the big stage, Mr Robertson was a race starter at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games.
His experience on the professional circuit has paid dividends, landing him second place in the Masters Games 50 metres backstroke.
Indoor rower sets the pace
Fellow 93-year-old competitor, Brisbane’s Vince Home, won gold.
Vince Home warming up on the indoor rowers with the help of his wife Beryl. (ABC News: Steve Keen)
The indoor rowing champion has not let losing most of his sight slow him down, clocking up more than 12 million metres on the rowing machine since taking up the sport six years ago.
“Makes you feel a lot better to do your row and finish feeling good — makes you want to do it the next day,” Mr Home said.
“It’s the greatest exercise that I know of, because I believe it operates about 82 of your muscles and nearly all of your joints.”
His wife Beryl, who turns 88 in December, helps keep her husband on pace during racing, because Mr Home cannot see the electronic timer.
He said he wanted to inspire other elderly people to get back into sport.
“I hope I encourage a lot of them to take it up,” he said.
“If they get a machine for themselves at home you can do it when you want to do it, as often as you want to do it, as hard as you want to do it.”