Age Is Just A Number

By David

On two or three occasions I have written articles about members of our Master’s program. The program is a pretty good one. There’s about fifty of us. We’ve had four US National Champions and last year one of them set two FINA Master’s World Records in the men’s 50 and 100 meters butterfly. For those who are interested, the times were 24.17 and 54.98. But more important than all that the team is made up of interesting, fun people that make the trip to training a ball.

Take Lesley for example. She’s a good swimmer who works her way through 5000 meters every morning. I haven’t been able to talk her into competing yet but when she does she could well become National Champion number five. Her early life is a compelling jumble of the eccentric and colorful. She’s actually done what the rest of us either make up or tell lies about. You don’t think so? Well how many of you have worked as an analyst in a major investment bank, been homeless and slept under bridges in Boston for six months, bought and sold Palm Beach gold, made tie dyed t-shirts to sell at rock concerts, been a bicycle courier through two New England winters, spent five years in a VW Kombi van following the Grateful Dead from concert to concert, nannied for the family of the Duke and Duchess of something in the London suburb of Chelsea, waited tables in an up-market Delray Beach restaurant or made a hundred rehab trips before finally giving the whole dangerous lifestyle away? They say your life experiences make you what you are. In Lesley’s case that’s true. She reflects the diverse complexity of her life. She’s interesting, loyal, compassionate and kind and, as I said before, a good swimmer as well. An old farming friend of mine in New Zealand used to say, “Judge your mates by whether you’d want them with you in the bush on a cold, wet night.” Lesley easily passes that test. Since I’ve been in the United States I’ve met one or two guys who really like to think they’re tough. They collect guns, drive jingoistic trucks, take their daughters to gun ranges, boast about their High School football feats and talk big about their country invading or bombing just about everybody. I wouldn’t have one of them anywhere near me in the bush on a dark night. That requires someone you can trust. You can trust Lesley though. But that’s not the problem. It’s more difficult than that – I’ve still got to get her into a bloody swimming race.

And then there is Master’s swimmer Martin. He was born and raised in a small town at the top of New Zealand’s South Island called Blenheim. It’s a lovely place. I once had a training camp there and for most of his life my father had a small farm just outside of town. My brother Pete was the Sport’s Editor of the town’s main newspaper and coached the local provincial (state) rugby team. Martin went to the same University as I did in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. The University’s brightest and best read politics and philosophy. For some reason, best known to himself, Martin chose to graduate in accountancy, imagine that, accountancy. Like many New Zealanders he then left New Zealand to see the world. Only Martin did it in a most unusual and exotic way. He took a gamble on his good looks and triathlon body and signed up with the 5th Avenue, New York, Ford modeling agency. One of our other swim team parents, Doug, is also on Ford’s books and we once had a team member who had been a finalist in the Miss. Venezuela contest. If nothing else, we sure as hell are the best looking master’s team in Florida. If you know anything about modeling you will be aware that Ford is probably the world’s leading agency. Here’s how their website describes themselves “One of the most recognized and respected agencies in the history of modeling, Ford impeccably represents a wide spectrum of models from supermodels like Jerry Hall and Carmen to hot faces like Chanel Iman and Lakshmi Menon.” Right now Ford represent only 62 models, two of whom are ranked in the world’s top 50 female models and seven ranked in the top 50 male models. Well, Martin was one of those. For ten years he wandered the world wearing designer clothes on the catwalks of Paris and Milan, having his photograph taken on the beach in Monte Carlo and on the side of Mount Fuji in Japan. I had dinner at his place two weeks ago and after a couple of bottles of wine he agreed to let me see his portfolio of photographs. It was bloody incredible; dozens of photographs of Martin dressed in the most expensive clothes, sometimes smiling, often with that slightly pouting scowl favored by the world’s best male models. God knows how he’s done it but after all that jet set lifestyle he is married, happily swimming on the Master’s team and the father of a daughter and son who swim on our USS team.

The team has a whole bunch of others who lead uncommonly interesting lives. There’s Kerry, three fingered Steve, Sarah, Matha, Peter, Ben, Noelle and a dozen others. We’ve run out of space in this article but I will tell you about that crew next time. You can see photographs of many of them on the master’s team website – In Lesley’s photograph she is being difficult and has a towel over her head. She says it’s because her hair looks awful when it’s wet. Martin has yet to be photographed for the team’s website. When we do we will try and get him into one of his Ford style poses. Let’s see if he’s still got it.