Kingwood senior swimmers win nine medals in Texas competition
- Written by Betty McComas
Kingwood residents Carolyn Mashburn, 67, and Marjo Stach, 64, have been friends for 17 years. Eleven of those years they have been swimming in competitions at the Texas State Senior Games held annually throughout Texas. This year the games were held in San Antonio, March 17 – April 1. The two women brought home a total of nine medals between them. “I’m lucky I’m still healthy,” said Stach. “Some come in wheelchairs. They are the ones that deserve the medals.” The Texas Senior Games are run by the Texas Senior Games Association (TSGA). It was created to encourage involvement in senior sports and to promote physical and educational activities for senors. The TSGA is associated with the National Senior Games Association (NSGA). Organized in 1985, the NSGA sanctioned senior games in 49 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the Veterans Golden Age games that qualify athletes to participate in the National Senior Games. The games are comprised of 24 different athletic competitions besides swimming. Some of these sports include basketball, softball, volleyball, tennis, golf, cycling, bowling and even Scrabble. To qualify, you must be 50 years old by December 31 of the year you wish to compete. Entrants then must register in one of 10 age groups that range from 50 to 95 years of age. Mashburn, a retired teacher, and Stach, an accountant, met at Kingwood Athletic Club, where Stach was swimming competitively for the Club. Her coach told her about the Texas Senior Games. She was interested and told Mashburn, “I want to do this and I want you to do this with me,” Stach said. “Sure, why not.” said Mashburn. That was 11 years ago, and they are still competing. But the two women have very different athletic backgrounds. Stach said she swam all her life but only competitively when she was in high school in Canada. Mashburn said she enjoyed “playing around” in the water. But all her life? “Oh, no,” she said. “I didn’t know how to swim until I was in my 50s.” When asked what brings them to the games year after year, the women share very different perspectives. Mashburn says she likes making new friends and meeting interesting people. She calls herself a ‘maximizer’ in that she likes to take people and help them learn and be their best. “I like people of excellence,” Mashburn said. “Ordinary people, like those I meet at the competitions, who do extraordinary things.” Stach has a different motivation. She calls herself a “little” competitive. “I drive fast cars so I can be the first person off the light; I like to win,” she said. Stach came home from the games with five medals – three gold, one silver and one bronze. Although stating that she was a little disappointed in the bronze, added that she really didn’t take the medals that seriously. She said she enters because it is fun for her and she likes to compete. Mashburn returned with four medals - three silver and one bronze. She said she felt “excited and delighted,” as it is always a surprise because “you never know” (how you will fare). Both women have great enthusiasm for returning to sports in their senior years. They urge others to consider it. “It’s so much fun,” said Mashburn. “You shouldn’t be intimidated by it.” “Get back into whatever you were doing. It doesn’t matter if you are good or not,” Stach said. The 2012 Texas State Senior Games in San Antonio were a qualifying game for the 2013 Summer National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio. Stach will be there. She qualified. Picture: Marjo Stach, left, and Carolyn Mashburn, right, recently competed in the Texas State Senior Games for swimming in San Antonio.