The Olympics may be over, but for 83-year-old swimmer George Huson they are just beginning.
Huson — a resident of Asbury Methodist Village, a retirement community in Gaithersburg — and hundreds of other athletes in the state are gearing up for the Maryland Senior Olympics, a statewide competition with 180 events for 22 sports for anyone 50 and older.
On Sept. 8, Huson will step up to the block and compete in the 50-yard freestyle, 200-yard backstroke, 50-yard backstroke and the 100-yard individual medley swimming events at the Germantown Indoor Swim Center in Boyds.
These events, he said, embody the mantra of “active aging,” a term he and many other residents of Asbury try to live out every day.
“It means that finding good physical activities that keep the blood circulating and are, hopefully, enjoyable,” said Huson, who has competed in the Maryland Senior Olympics since 1992 when he competed in volleyball. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to compete in events that one has experience with or that one has always wanted to compete in. We all have a good time, and it’s important that we keep active.”
Being active physically, intellectually and vocationally is something Cathy Moxley of Germantown, the fitness director at Asbury, said is very important for people as they age.
“Active aging has to do with living a vibrant lifestyle. We know that when people are active and engaged, they are leading more fulfilling lives and they are leading healthier lives, and this totally increases the quality of life,” Moxley said. “People wake up here every day with a purpose.”
Cathy said this is the second year Asbury has had a team in the Maryland Senior Olympics. Huson, the Montgomery County spokesperson for the state Olympics, said he has made seven trips to the national Senior Olympics competition, which happens every other year. This year, he said, is a qualifying year.
The Maryland Senior Olympics started at Towson University in Towson in 1980, and for the last five years the event was run by Montgomery County government. When the county faced budget cuts and could no longer support the event, Baltimore city agreed to sponsor it for 2012. This year’s Olympics started July 14 and will run through the month of September.
The sports offered in range from active sports like volleyball, basketball and running to more sedentary sports like bass fishing, cornhole and disc golf, which were added this year, said Ted Wroth of Poolesville, who has served as the executive director for Maryland Senior Olympics for the last five years.
Ed Crockett, 88, said he has been playing bocce since the day he arrived at Asbury in April 2007, because he was looking for physical activity that was easy on the body.
“I generally like anything that’s competitive. I’ve always been involved in athletics,” said Crockett, who walks the perimeter of the Asbury campus every morning and uses the exercise room there every other day. “My secret to life is a good diet and physical activity.”
Crockett said the challenge of competing in bocce is playing on a different court, but also the mental sport that comes with bocce.
“If the other players are not too strong and not challenging you, then you compete against yourself,” Crockett said. “With each roll of the bocce ball, you try to improve and get closer to the target ball.”
Artha Jean Snyder, 87, has lived at Asbury for nearly 10 years and has played bocce for about three years to keep herself busy after the passing of her husband. This year will make her first year competing in the Senior Olympics when she competes Sept. 17.
“I decided that bocce might be fun, so I went out to one of their times when they played and they said, ‘well, yes, you can join us,’” Snyder said. “I’ve been at it ever since.”
Snyder, who will be competing in singles and in partners, said she practices about twice per week, but also uses the exercise room on a regular basis, attends exercise classes and is active in her church in Darnestown.
“I think it’s very important to stay active as you get older. I like to keep going and that’s one of the things that good around here because there’s so much to do,” Snyder said. “It’s more than just being physically active.”
For more information and to see the schedule of competitions, visit mdseniorolympics.org.