GEORGE TOWN, Aug 8 – Maria Del Carmen Soria and Colin Stanford may come from different ends of the world, but they have a common trait – making new friends through their love for swimming.
The 74-year-old Soria, who hails from Argentina, and the 79-year-old Australian Stanford are both competing in the ongoing Asia Pacific Masters Games 2018 swimming competition at the MBPP Relau Sports Complex.
Soria, who is a professional violinist, comes from a family background of musicians and has been a violinist in the Symphony Orchestra. She is the only one from her big family of musicians who has ventured into swimming and she loves every minute of it. She has been swimming since 1999.
“I am old, but I love the water. Being in the water makes me very happy and I feel very well by just swimming. Swimming is just one part which got me involved in sports. It’s the people and the county that I visit through swimming that motivates me to keep going. I love to travel and meet new people,” said Soria.
“At this age, I am doing what I love and matters most to me. When I swim with new friends I remember it and I cherish every moment. It’s that feeling that I look forward to that keeps me so happy and want to swim more. Everyone can swim but there is a difference when you swim with love and passion. You wouldn’t want to leave the waters and it is indeed the most beautiful feeling.”
Soria swam today in 200m breaststroke event in the 70-74 age group competition today and finished fourth in a time of 4:20.60. Araud Christian from Nicaragua won the race in 3:00.00. The swimming event started on Thursday. She will swim in the 200m butterfly event tomorrow.
Soria participated in the World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand last year, and also in the World Swimming competitions in Canada, Sweden and Kasabias in individual swimming meets. Soria loves Penang very much and congratulated APMG for a job well done.
“There are participants from more than 60 countries united here and share their experience and challenges, which is very motivating for everyone.” For Stanford, swimming is more than just a passion as he feels the sport is keeping him going.
The Aussie, who will be turning 80 soon, suffered a heart attack two years ago, but probably it was swimming which saved his life. Stanford, who hails from a small town off Sydney which only has a population of 600 people, was an avid swimmer from young but stopped swimming when he started working a plumber in his early 20s.
But upon his retirement when he turned 50, he returned to the pools again. However, despite being a regular swimmer, he suffered a heart attack probably because of his eating habits. Stanford’s doctor encouraged him to continue swimming despite being a heart patient and he has become even more dedicated to the sport.
“Being in the water and swimming makes me feel great. It makes me feel good and healthy, not to mention rejuvenated,” said Stanford after swimming in the 200m free style and emerging tops in 3:28.80. These days, Stanford practices a healthy eating living habit. He does not consume sugar and canned food. He even consumes fruits in small quantity because of glucose content.
“It’s not about winning a medal. It’s about the new acquaintances, the comradeship and meeting new people despite not speaking their language which makes this Games so enjoyable. Everyone has a genuine smile and there is love all around,” said a modest Stanford.
Stanford, who is making his international Masters Games debut in Penang, registered for one event only. Having completed his event even before the Games is officially opened tomorrow, Stanford plans to visit the other sports venues to watch the action and make new friends. He also intends to visit the many attractive places in Penang.
Swimming is one of the 22 sports contested in the inaugural APMG 2018. The official opening ceremony of the Games will be held at the City Stadium on Saturday (Sept 8) from 7.30pm. It runs until Sept 16.