104-year-old says swimming a key to longevity

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WINNIPEG – Jaring Timmerman says the benefits of swimming have played an important role in his longevity and excellent health throughout his life. The 104-year-old Winnipeg swimmer made headlines once again last week when he officially became the world’s oldest Masters swimmer.

“There’s no doubt swimming has definitely kept me in shape,” said Timmerman, who amazes with his sporting achievements and overall sharpness.

“It’s a sport that requires you to use all your muscles on your body. I thought it would be good for me and it’s something to do. It’s fun to win all the medals and be able to give them to my grandchildren. It’s a challenge for me. That’s why I do it.”

He started swimming competitively at age 79 when his wife recommended he enter a Seniors Olympics competition when they were residing in Arizona. He was reluctant at first when he saw the level of competition.

“These were all guys who were stars in college, swimming all their lives, I felt I didn’t stand a chance,” said Timmerman. “But after much persuasion by my wife, lo and behold I got the gold in the 200-m freestyle. I couldn’t believe it.”

Timmerman has also enjoyed swimming throughout his life but at a recreational level on creeks, rivers and community pools as a youth and on Lake Winnipeg later on. “Anytime I had a chance to swim I would do it,” he said.

Timmerman is no stranger to challenges. In World War II he was a navigator on Lancaster bombers targeting railways, oil depots and other key points in Germany. He returned home without any serious injury and went on to a successful career primarily with the Grain Insurance and Guaranty Co. in Winnipeg where he would retire as president and general manager.

At the Canadian Masters in Winnipeg Timmerman completed the 50-metre backstroke and 50-metre freestyle. He was credited with a world record for both events in the new 105-109 Masters Age Group. Timmerman turns 105 in February.

“I decided those are probably my last races,” he said about the Masters event. “But who knows?”

Timmerman’s son Bruce summed up the feeling of spectators at the Masters championships in Winnipeg.

“People felt they had just witnessed a miracle.”

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