Ocean City Today

Schneider, 91, wins 50-yard backstroke at competition

By Kara Hallissey | Oct 12, 2017
Photo by: Kara Hallissey Ocean Pines resident Joe Schneider, 91, took home a gold medal in the 50-yard backstroke event during the Delaware Senior Olympics last Friday in Dover after learning how to swim six months ago.

(Oct. 13, 2017) Ocean Pines resident Joe Schneider, 91, took home a gold medal in the 50-yard backstroke event during the Delaware Senior Olympics, last Friday in Dover.

“I was pleased and it was a good experience,” said Schneider, who only learned how to swim six months ago. “It was an accumulation of hard work. It was exciting and pumped you up.”

At least 20 family members and friends came out to see Schneider compete. In addition, three other Ocean Pines Sports Core Pool members participated in the competition.

“It was wonderful,” Schneider said. “My brother, sister and a granddaughter was there. There was a good crowd. There was a lot going on.”

In addition to Schneider, Lynn Calloway, 69, of River Run, received a silver medal in the 100-yard backstroke, while Kathi Thomas, 61, also of River Run, took home a bronze medal in the same event. Ward Barney, 66, of Ocean Pines, earned two gold medals, in the 100- and 50-yard breaststroke.

All competitions came to an end by noon and participants from four different states were in attendance.

“The other swimmers were cheering, clapping and screaming for [Schneider at the competition],” Edith Vogl, a class instructor at the Ocean Pines Sports Core Pool, said.

A little over two years ago, Schneider had an accident and hit his head. It caused a mild concussion and he was covered in bruises. Because of the incident, he decided to start taking a “Creaky Joints” class at the Ocean Pines Sports Core Pool to improve his balance and flexibility.

Soon after, he was also participating in weekly “Aqua Jog” and “Wet Works” classes, which provides aerobic benefits and a full body workout.

Schneider, who is originally from Baltimore, became close with the instructors of the classes, Vogl and Maria Love. Vogl recognized his relentless mindset and suggested the 90-year-old learn how to swim.

“When I see someone is able to do more than what they are doing and I know they will enjoy it, I push,” Vogl said. “We are looking at this as a trial year to get some baselines and see where he needs improvements. Every two years is a qualifying year for the National Senior Olympics, which is invitation only.”

About a month ago, Schneider began to swim the backstroke and decided to participate in Delaware because it gave him a couple of extra weeks to prepare for the competition. In addition, Delaware is an open state with athletes of different abilities taking part from all over the country.

Next year, Schneider plans to compete in the Maryland Senior Olympics, which will take place in September in Germantown, where he hopes to qualify for the National Senior Olympics in Nevada.

To train for the competition, Schneider will continue taking weekly “Aqua Jog” and “Wet Works” classes. In the next couple months, Schneider will continue his private backstroke lessons with Love.

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