Seniors lead the way on staying fit and having fun

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Tony Stanton, 89, swims four times a week at the Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre.
Camera IconTony Stanton, 89, swims four times a week at the Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre. Credit: Laurie Benson

Teresa Greeves thinks it’s a “lotta hooey” that there are people out there who believe the elderly are not capable of being physically fit.

She is 90 years young and still smashing it at table tennis once a week.

As fit as a fiddle, she is a walking example of the saying “age is just a number”. If you ask her, she will say she does not feel 90.

Mrs Greeves is one of the six local people featured in the City of Albany’s new Long Live You campaign.

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Tony Stanton, 89, is another.

He still swims laps at the Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre four times a week, where he has been known to regularly clock up 8.5km in the pool in a week.

Granny Grommet Sheryl Shaylor, 70, catches a wave better than most people half her age, and as one of the six inspirational seniors, she wants others to realise the importance of being fit as you age.

Once a week she and up to 50 other women over the age of 50 grab their boogie boards and hit the surf at Middleton Beach.

While many first take up a sport to be physically fit, she said there were strong mental and social benefits that elderly people should not do without.

“I lived on a farm my whole life and it was the first thing that I joined when I came to Albany, being deprived of the sea all my life,” she said.

“Being able to get in the water and have a good belly laugh about how ridiculous we are, it is just a great thing to do.

“There is always something going on in a group of women at that age, and various things happen that are good to talk about.

“I have had a few health problems and the support of the ladies, mentally, has helped me so much.

“Making the first big splash is the hard thing.”

Like Mrs Shaylor, Mrs Greeves took up her sport later in life.

She started playing table tennis after she was struck down with Ross River virus in 2000 — and having a hit on Fridays at ALAC has become a big part of her life.

“It is a great club with lovely people,” she said. “We all have a laugh and giggle and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose.

“You just enjoy life that much more if you are physically fit and there is nothing that you can’t do.”

Mr Stanton has seen how physical activity can turn a person’s health around.

He started swimming in 1970 when he was overweight and a heavy smoker, and he has not looked back.

He estimates he has swum enough laps to make it to Cape Town.

When asked if he planned to keep going, he said: “why not?”

Mr Stanton, a member of the Albany Masters Swimming Club, said the best thing you could do to start swimming was to swim with others, even if you were at different levels of ability.

“Everybody supports everybody else by saying ‘aren’t you coming today?’,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if that bloke can do it in 30 seconds and you take a minute and 30, it is about getting people swimming and having some fun.

“I feel good and I am not on any medication.”

Cyclist Leith Rowe, dragon boat competitor Maureen Cowdell and gym-user Alison Durham are the other three champions whose faces will be seen on posters around town.

They are all part of the Long Live You campaign, which hopes to inspire seniors in Albany, Denmark and Mt Barker to get active.

The spring program is now in full swing at your local leisure centre.

For more information, visit albanyleisurecentre.com.au.

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