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Y Masters Host 28th Annual Groundhog Swim Meet, Sunday, Feb. 3

The Y Masters swimmers who train as a team in the Family Y’s Stauffer Pool are an accomplished, experienced group of athletes who compete — and win — at  the national level.

Y Masters swimmer Sheila Stolarski.

At the 2012 YMCA Masters National Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Sheila Stolarski, competing in the women’s  50-54 age group, broke meet records in winning the 50-, 100- and 200-yard backstroke and 100 freestyle. She also won the 100-yard individual medley and 50-yard freestyle.

Y Board Member Mike Laux swam in the 70-74-year-old age group and won the 100 and 200 breaststroke and the 500 and 1,000 freestyle. Other members on the team included Markley Rizzo, Pam Moss, Heather Friel, Colleen Brandon, Cathy Milton, Tracy Phillips, Lauren Finnegan and Bill Geoghegan.

This Sunday, Feb. 3, our Masters will be swimming in home waters as the team hosts their 28th annual Groundhog Meet.  Warm up will begin at 8:30 am, with a start time of 9:30 am. (As a result, the  Stauffer Pool will be closed to other swimmers from 8 am-1 pm, although the warm-water Brophy pool will remain on regular schedule.)

Mike Laux, who coordinates the Y Masters practice and meet schedule, welcomes new swimmers to the club, and invites new Masters to take the plunge at this weekend’s meet. To register, simply click on this link.

If you’re thinking a head-first plunge into such stout competition might be daunting, take heart in the inspirational story of lifelong Y Member Wayne Shadbolt.

As it happens, Wayne, 88 years young, is the subject of a wonderful profile written this week by Norwalk Hour reporter George Albano. Here are a few passages about how he got back in the pool…

…In 1973, Shadbolt’s sports career would get rejuvenated at the ripe age of 48. And for the first time, he would finally have the opportunity to swim competitively at an organized meet.

“Somebody told me about a Masters swim meet at the YMCA,” he recalled. “So I went down, signed up, and entered a couple of events.”

How did he do?

“I finished dead last in both events.”

Perhaps the name of the event — The April Fools Meet — should have tipped him off.

But Shadbolt was far from discouraged. Quite the contrary, he couldn’t wait to get back in the pool.

“Even though I came in last, I liked it and wanted to get more involved,” he said. “My first meet was in Norwalk, but the Norwalk Y didn’t have a Masters team. The Westport Y did so I started swimming for them.”

Shadbolt still went to the Norwalk YMCA every day during his lunch hour to swim laps and improve his conditioning. Just one year later, he finished first in the 200-yard freestyle and third in the 50 and 100 freestyles in the 45-49 age group in a 1974 Masters swim meet at the Wilton YMCA.

Now he really had the bug. Shadbolt would swim in four more AAU Masters events that year and capture three first place medals.

“I just really got into it,” he said. “I loved it.”

And for the next 40 years Wayne was one of the top swimmers in the country in his age group — and in a couple years’ time looks forward to competing in the 90-and-older age group, where no doubt he will dominate! (To read the complete profile, click here.)

The Westport Weston Family Y Masters Swim Team conducts ongoing practices, which are held Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:15-10 pm, and on Saturday mornings, 11:15 am -12:30 pm (Family Y Membership is required.)

For more information, contact Nicole Turechek, Director of Aquatics, at 203-226-8981, ext. 128 or, or come by the Y Sunday morning to size up the competition!