A 75-year-old Fraser Valley swimmer brought home five medals after competing in an international senior sports competition.
Neil Reeder won four gold and one bronze at the Huntsman World Senior Games in Utah. The former Yarrow man, who now lives in Abbotsford, is a member of the Chilliwack Masters Swim Club.
The games took place Oct. 9 to Oct. 21 and the swimming portion was held Oct. 11 to Oct. 13.
Reeder competed in the 75 to 79 age group and swam the 50-metre breaststroke (with a time of 45.10), 100-metre breaststroke (1:46.65), 50-metre freestyle (37.96), 100-metre freestyle (1:27.45), and 200-metre freestyle (3:28.52).
He won gold in each of the 50- and 100-metre races and bronze for the 200-metre freestyle.
It was the second time Reeder competed in the World Senior Games. He also went in 2021 and won three bronze medals.
Started in 1987, the World Senior Games is the largest annual multi-sport senior competition in the world.
Reeder has been competing in swimming since he was in high school in California. In the mid-’60s, he earned an invitation to swim for San Francisco State.
“I turned them down to go and fight in Vietnam. It was eye-opening and life-changing,” he said. “When I returned, I was a bit lost and I stayed that way for about 40 years.”
Reeder met his wife while travelling with his band in 1983, and moved to Canada in 1986. He quit drinking in 2001 and quit smoking six years after that.
“I quit smoking because I could no longer walk up a flight of stairs without pausing to catch my breath, and decided to go back to swimming cause I knew I couldn’t do both,” Reeder said.
He joined the Chilliwack Masters Swim Club about 13 years ago and is still active in local and provincial meets.
“I’ve met many wonderful people while competing and would recommend to all to continue some kind of sport. It has literally saved my life.”