When you’re the oldest competitor in the field, you could be excused for taking it easy. But 95-year-old Marion Beulke proved age does not slow you down as she claimed six gold medals at the Gold Coast Pan Pacific Master Games.
The Pan Pacific Master Games ran from 4-13 November and featured thousands of participants from Australia and overseas in their 30s through to their 90s.
Having started swimming at 75, an age when most people would have put their feet up and ditched the goggles, Ms Beulke was the eldest swimmer at the Games.
She jumped right into the deep end when she saw Melbourne was hosting the World Masters Games back in 2002. After claiming bronze in the 400-metre freestyle, the Frankston Peninsula Masters member has never looked back.
“We’re inclined to sleep more at this age, and that is dangerous. The more you do, the more you can do,” said Ms Beulke to the ABC.
“I love swimming because the water is supporting you.
“All you have to do is float and move your arms and legs and breathe. That’s all.”
Ms Beulke did more than just float and move her arms and legs at the Pan Pacific Masters Games, she went home to Melbourne with half-a-dozen gold medals and two national records.
Her versatility was on show, setting national records in the 50m breaststroke and backstroke for the 95 – 99 age category, beating the previous backstroke record by almost three seconds.
Victorian state records were also set in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle. Her exciting finish in the 400m freestyle was captured on video.
Not one to take a break, Ms Beulke squeezed in a 200m freestyle relay with Beres Hindman (88), China Johnson (94) and Patrick Galvin (89).
Mr Johnson, not to be outdone, excelled in eight events of his own, smashing the 90 – 94 800m national record by almost six seconds.
Ms Beulke has not confirmed if she’ll be back for the 2023 event, as she has to listen to her own body’s abilities.
“Never say never… It all depends on how I feel and whether I can get somebody to look after me,” said Ms Beulke.
“You don’t choose [when to train] at 95 years old because your body and mind really choose for you.
“But you always think, ‘Give it a go’ because you don’t know what you can do until you do it.”
Ms Beulke may have to watch out for 92-year-old Perth swimmer Glad McGough, who has 101 state and national records and could certainly set more in the future.