Sun City resident Bernie Suave won eight medals, including one gold, during the Senior National Games in Florida May 13-16.
Suave won a golf medal in the 200-meter breast stroke with a time of 2:57.08. He won three silvers, including the 200 individual medley at 2:43.75, the 200 medley relaye and the 200 frestyle relay. He also won three bronze medals in the 50 breat at 36.14, the 100 individual medley at 1:15.55 and the 400 individual medley at 6:11.98. He also placed fourth in the 100 breast at 1:23.71.
Suave trained for the event by working out with the Sun City Stars swim group at the Bell Center pool, 16820 N. 99th Ave. He swam Monday, Wednesday and Friday and worked on weights with his wife, Kathy, on Tuesday and Thursday.
“This is a great way to train for a competitive event, you can have the opportunity to pace your self against other swimmers and have them critique you to help improve your technique and speed,” Suave said. “You also can use the facility on your own schedule.”
The national meet was conducted at the Plantation Aquatic Center in Fort Lauderdale, which is an outdoor facility with two separate 50-meter by 25-yard pools. Being an outdoor facility presents challenges due to the weather, according to Suave.
“I had scheduled to do two events each of the four days, but on the first day the pool had been over chlorinated, and swimming did not start until 1 p.m.,” Suave said. “After two lightning delays, the events for the 50-69 age group was delayed to the next day, which meant I would be swimming four events in one day, which is a little bit more tiring.
There were lightning delays on all four days of competition, which can be a bit unnerving, but everyone competes under the same conditions, so all is fair, according to Suave.
Even though he was the only member of the Sun City Stars club at the meet, he still had support from acquaintances he made made over the years. They were always eager to cheer him on even if they are competitors in other events.
“Nothing beats the support of my wife, Kathy, at these events,” Suave said.
He has been swimming since the age of 2. His mother was a Red Cross water safety instructor and made sure all of her children were swimming at a very young age. She laid the foundation of good stroke technique, which is fundamental to speed in later years.
Suave originally started competing in his 30s when training for some triathlons. He joined a local masters swim team to prepare for the swimming portion and was encouraged to go to some competitions and did well at those. He quit competing for several years and did not start again until his 50s. During that time, he would only be able to practice a couple of weeks before an event.
“I would still do well but always wondered how well I could do if I were able to train more often and really be competitive,” he said. “After retiring and moving to Arizona I was able to accomplish those goals.”
Suave’s next competition will be at the Huntsman World Senior Games in St George, Utah in October.
“Swimming at this level keeps me in great physical shape,” Suave said. “The constant search to improve the strokes and increase the speed helps to keep the mental acuity at a high level. One of my favorite times to swim is early in the morning in the winter. You are under the stars and moon, and I find it incredibly peaceful and just a great quiet time paddling back and forth.”
He recommends highly to anyone who would like to improve or maintain their health to investigate the Sun City Stars.
“It does not matter if you are a beginner or a past competitor, you are certainly welcome,” Suave said.
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