Old Fish

360 club

They may have an average age of 90, but the 360 squad from Sydney are preparing to break a national record after overcoming tragedy within their own ranks.
Six months ago they lost one of their members on the eve of their first attempt at the record for the Masters Swimming organisation.
The team’s 93-year-old breaststroker, John-William Steen, passed away in his home the day before the race.
Now the swimmers, Max Van Gelder, 87, John Sheridan, 92 and Ossie Doherty, 91, are attempting the race once again with a new member, Ray McGimpsey, who is 90.
To become a 360 squad, the members ages combined must add up to … you guessed it, 360.
And this will be the first time a male 360 team have attempted the relay.
The newest swimmer, Mr McGimpsey, was recruited by Mr Sheridan from his retirement village in Sydney.
“He’s a pretty fit guy,” Mr Sheridan said.
“He’s 90 this year and he was a chemical engineer, so he must be pretty smart.”
The team will attempt a 4x50m freestyle relay at the state championships in Homebush this weekend.
“Ray is going to go first, then John, then Ossie and then me,” Mr Van Gelder said.
“We are guys are of a mature age.
“The main thing is it’s fun and if we get a good result out of it, then it makes it even better.”
Mr Van Gelder said everyone still missed their former team-mate Mr Steen.
“I have known John-William for a long time, he was very consistent, he was a good friend.”
Mr Sheridan said they were all at an age where death has become all too common, even within their own ranks.
“I am becoming used to losing friends, it’s becoming a bit of a habit really,” he said.


UPDATE: Aril 9, 2017

These four men from Sydney’s northern beaches are the toast of the swimming community, after completing a 4×50-metre relay with a combined team age of 360 years.

John Sheridan, 92, Ossie Doherty, 91, Ray McGimpsey, 90, and Max Van Gelder, 87, achieved the national age record at the NSW Masters Swimming Championships at Homebush.

Sheridan said his family viewed his active lifestyle with some amusement.

“My son reckons that I’ve always lived dangerously and I probably have. But life’s good,” he said.

Mr Van Gelder swam the final leg as friends and family screamed encouragement from the grandstand.

His wife, Carol, said her husband was showing no signs of slowing down.

“Max has got more keen and faster as he’s got older,” she said.

“He’s hungry for victory.”

Van Gelder dedicated the race to his friend John-William Steen’s memory.

“This was for John,” he said.

“[Swimming] is what made John a happy chappy. It was his life.”


 

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