Fife resident Tammy Wilson rediscovered a passion for swimming seven years ago, and it has paid off ever since. Wilson, 55, competed in the National Senior Games on July 19-21 in Cleveland, Ohio and came away with three gold medals, setting three national records in the process.
“I was pretty happy with how I did,” said Wilson, who won the 50-, 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes. “I wasn’t expecting a lot. Our age group was the fastest age group out there this year.”
Swimming in the 55-59 age group, Wilson won the 50-yard breaststroke in 35.72 seconds, good for the best overall time at the event, regardless of age. Her finish of one minute and 19.60 seconds not only won the 100-yard breaststroke, it smashed the previous national record by six seconds. Her record in the 200-yard breaststroke was nearly 10 seconds faster than the old record, and despite finishing fourth in the 200-yard freestyle, Wilson was one of five swimmers to surpass that record as well.
Wilson grew up in West Seattle, and picked up swimming at 7 years old. After attending Chief Sealth High School and training with the Seattle Triton Aquatic Club, she earned a scholarship to swim at the University of New Mexico. But she lost the passion for the sport shortly after college, giving it up for an extended period of time. That is, until she began training again with a newfound friend at age 48, and began attending regional and national meets.
“It was fun again,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t a grudge match anymore.”
Since returning to the sport, Wilson has participated in three straight National Senior Games; in 2009 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. and in 2011 in Houston, Texas, in addition to this summer. She returned from Cleveland this summer to participate in the Washington State Senior Games in Olympia on July 26-28, winning six gold medals and setting six meet records in the process. And despite discovering a newfound love for running as well, it is clear that Wilson is eyeing some more success as a swimmer in the future.
“They did a really good job of supporting everyone coming,” she said of the hosts in Cleveland. “You get people that are 100, 90 (years old) still swimming. That’s more inspiration for me.”