Albuquerque, New Mexico June 16-25 was the site of the 2019 National Senior Games (NSG). This year SBR was represented by five athletes joined by 14,000 others from every state across the U.S. and some foreign countries as well. This was the largest attended Senior Games ever, despite the elevation of 5300’. The participants were 50 years of age up to 103.
The SBR athletes attending included Jim Spiegel (swimming), Tom and Kelly Reuter (pickleball and swimming), and Don and Betty Schaefer (swimming, pickleball, and track and field). In order to participate in this year’s NSG, all athletes had to qualify in an NSG completion at the state level the previous year.
Jim Spiegel (70-74 age group) cheered on by his wife Bobbie, had a great meet. Jim, who swims competitively for the U.S. Masters SaddleBrooke team, swam in five events over a two-day period. He received a bronze medal (third place) in the 200y freestyle. Followed by a fourth in the 100y Butterfly, fifth in the 50y freestyle, sixth in the 100y freestyle, and seventh in the 50y butterfly. He had three PB’s (Personal Bests). In most swimming events there were upward of 30 participants, and in the shorter sprint events upwards of 50.
Kelly Reuter (70-74 age group) in her first NSG had her best finish in an individual event in the 50y backstroke with a ninth place. She also swam to a 13th place in the 100y backstroke, and 16th place in both the 50y freestyle and the 100 Individual Medley. All of Kelly’s swims were PB’s. She was also recruited to swim with a 60-64 age group team from Alaska on their Mixed 200 freestyle relay where they managed a fifth place.
Betty Schaefer (70-74 age group) ran in her second NSG. In the individual events she ran to a fifth place in the 400M, and a sixth place in the 800M. Betty teamed with three other women from her USATF SoCal Striders Team to erase two National Records in the 4x100m relay. Their team took eight seconds off the NSG record and two seconds off the National USA Track and Field record that had stood since 1993. They received a gold medal for that effort.
Don Schaefer (75-59 age group), who also swims for SaddleBrooke, managed a seventh place in the 50y freestyle. Don and Tom ‘Wingman’ Reuter (in the 70-74 age group) were entered in the men’s doubles in pickleball. This tournament, as well as the qualifier, were open competition, meaning that 5.0 rated players down were all bunched together. They advanced into the third round and were eliminated. Tom also played singles and advanced into the fourth round. In mixed doubles Tom and his partner made it through three rounds. All of the events in pickleball had ladders of over 80 participants or teams.
While all the SBR athletes managed some great times and efforts, the overriding comment you will hear from all of them is how competitive their events were. It was definitely of a National Championships caliber. Albuquerque did an awesome job of putting on the event; no easy task with 14k people (the organizers estimated another 10k in spouses and family support) in town for two weeks. A serious effort on behalf of an incredible number of volunteers. The 2021 NSG will be held in the Greater Fort Lauderdale Fl. area. They are anticipating an even greater number of participants. For several obvious reasons, it will be at sea level and with numerous entertainment destination venues close by. The NSG is comprised of 20 sports which are all awarded medals through top three places and ribbons through top ten. For those wanting to attend in Florida (2021) you must participate in a qualifying event in the year 2020.