SportsEvents Magazine

SEP 2017

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September 2017 38 When DeEtte Sauer was 58 years old, she swam her first competitive race. Eighteen years later, in this summer's National Senior Games held in Birmingham, Ala., she won her first gold medals. Two of them. Sauer started swimming through the U.S. Masters Swimming program. "The first time I tried, I couldn't even get halfway across the pool," she said. "But this young coach told me she could teach me … if I would just keep my mouth shut and do what she said." Every day, the coach found something to praise about Sauer's performance. "That particular coach didn't make me feel unsuccessful," she said, though she admits her first time to compete was nerve- wracking. "I was so very, very scared. I didn't want to embarrass myself. But I won a medal. That's what hooked me." She now trains six days a week for an hour and a half to two hours a day, and competes in the butterfly and the 400-meter individual medley, a race that includes all four swimming strokes. She races in U.S. Masters Swimming events, which has programs for all ages and all types of swimmers. She has won multiple medals in local and state Senior Games, and has competed at nine National Senior Games. Senior Games, a biennial competition for men and women 50 and older, is the largest multi-sport competition in the world for senior adults. It began with about 2,500 athletes in 1987, National Senior Games Association CEO Marc T. Riker said. "The concept caught on and participation steadily grew until it topped 10,000 athletes competing in 18 sports in the 1987 Games in Tucson," he said. Over the past two decades, attendance has stayed strong, ranging from 10,000 to 12,000 athletes. Diving In! Photos courtesy of National Senior Games DeEtte Sauer of Houston, Texas, swims a lap at the 2017 National Senior Games in Birmingham, Ala. Sauer won two gold medals at this year's games. Seniors Excel In The World Of Sports BY TAMMY LEYTHAM t SPORT Report

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