CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — More than six decades had passed since Carolina Meadows’ own John Geis last stepped on to the starter’s blocks, but once the starting signal rang out, he knew exactly what to do: jump in and swim.
And swim he did at the annual NC State Senior Games Championship the last weekend of September, bringing home the gold in the 100-, 200- and 500-yard freestyle and the 50-yard backstroke – an impressive feat for a man who took a 62-year hiatus from the sport. But it wasn’t an easy win.
“My first race was at 10 AM and last one at 3:30 PM,” Geis explained. “The water was about 10° cooler than the Carolina Meadows pool. The huge room was also cool and there were hundreds of swimmers all around.”
An avid swimmer in high school and college, Geis, 83, stopped competing back in 1953. But this year, the call of the waters grew too loud to ignore, so he competed in the Chatham County Senior Games in April, where he qualified for the state championship in Cary.
After qualifying, Geis knew he’d have to train diligently if he wanted to perform his best at the state finals. Geis worked on his stroke with several expert swimmers and improved his diet with help from Carolina Meadows dietitian CeCe Eckert and wellness director Michele Marino. He also credits his wife, Lou Ann, for her endless encouragement.
“I worked hard, and it paid off,” said Geis. “Not only did I win each race, but my winning times were all lower than my qualifying times, and lower than the State 2014 winners’ times in two of the four events.”
Geis was not the only Carolina Meadows resident to have a remarkable performance at the NC State Senior Games Championship. Resident Bill Powers medaled in multiple events as well, taking first place in the 400-meter dash and 5k run. Powers started his running career in his 40s and frequently participates in 5Ks around the area. Resident Jim Butcher also has a few NC State Senior Games victories under his belt. In his home sits an impressive collection of 34 gold medals awarded in swimming and track events from previous years.
The NC Senior Games began more than three decades ago with a vision to create a year-round health promotion and education program for North Carolinians 50 years and older.
Today, there are over 60,000 participants in 53 Local Games programs that serve all 100 counties across the state. Events include swimming, track, archery, bowling, basketball, cycling and many more, as well as performance and cultural activities including dance, drama, woodworking, knitting, painting and cheerleading.
About Carolina Meadows
Carolina Meadows, located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was founded in 1983 and is one of the nation’s foremost continuing-care retirement communities. The 166-acre campus boasts private homes and apartments that include a state-of-the-art wellness center, indoor pool, dining venues, a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts and much more. Visit Carolina Meadows online at www.carolinameadows.org.