GARY Stutsel has been a keen swimmer since he was around 13 and now at the age of 80, he is still lapping up life in the pool.
The Molonglo Water Dragons club treasurer, founder of Masters Swimming Australia and co-founder of International Masters Swimming just achieved a personal best at the Great Barrier Reef Masters Games in May.
Gary was named swimmer of the meet after winning 10 events in the 80-84 year-old age division, all of them in record time for the event.
The incredible performance included wins in nine individual events, a NSW record in the 100m backstroke and a win in the 4 x 50 mixed medley in the 280-319 year category.
The Canberra based swimmer has had a passion for competition ever since he was a 13-year-old school student.
He almost qualified for the 1960 Olympic games, only to have his chances ruined when his knee was smashed in a road accident. Around 12 months later he was back in the pool again.
"For me it was something that always came easily to me, even though I had plenty of tuition," he said.
Gary said it was the first time he had swept the pool at a masters event and jokingly attributed his dominance to longevity.
""We used to have a saying - if you can't beat them, outlive them," he said.
"When I first started swimming there were a number of fellows who would swap wins, but now a lot of them aren't able to swim or aren't around any more."
He was unsure why he had managed to stay so fit and healthy - he said he had survived around seven near death experiences, including bypass surgery.
He still gets plenty of exercise, including swimming four times a week and exercise classes twice a week which help him maintain muscle tone.
He said he believed his role in founding and running masters swimming groups had also played a role in his longevity and continuing fitness.
"I Think if you set yourself a goal to do something, it helps you get past things and not dwell on them," he said.
Gary received an OAM in 1986 for his efforts in founding Australian and International Swimming Masters and is a member of the International Masters Swimming hall of fame.
He said he had made many friends both in Australia and overseas since he established Masters Swimming Australia in 1975 and encouraged others to join a local Masters club.
"Some do it because they are mad keen competitors, some do it to stay fit and others do it for social reasons," he said.
Gary was not the only swimmer from his club to taste success, his 65 year-old teammate and 2017 swimmer of the meet John Collis finished the event with one gold and five silvers.
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