First Weekend of 2018 Florida Senior Games concludes with epic finish in Swimming Pool and Perfect Game in Bowling
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Over the first weekend of competition in the 2018 Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana, over 800 athletes competed in eight sports in various locations in Clearwater and Pinellas County. Over nine days of competition, the 27th annual Olympic-style Sports Festival for athletes age 50 and over will see more than 2,600 athletes compete in 25 sports.
Sunday saw a “Who’s Who” of Florida Senior Games swimming record-holders at The Long Center in Clearwater in the 200-yard intermediate medley 65-69 age group event.
When J. Nathan Leech, of The Villages; George Schmidt, of West Palm Beach; and Rudy Vazmina, of Sarasota climbed onto the starting blocks, the trio brought with them a combined 17 record-setting performances over their years in the Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana.
After the first 50-yard leg of the race, the Butterfly, George Schmidt held the lead followed by Rudy Vazmina and Nathan Leech. After the second leg, the Backstroke, Leech had moved into second place and closed the gap on Schmidt in the third leg, the Breaststroke.
Entering the final leg, the Freestyle, Schmidt held a slight lead over Leech. By the time the two made the turn for the final 25 yards to the finish line, they were even.
“He looked at me, and I looked at him and we were off,” said Leech.
At the finish line, Leech touched the pad at 2:35.98 and Schmidt was right behind at 2:36.27. Vazmina came in third with a time of 2:42.34
Overall, the FSG Men’s Swimming elite combined for 16 medals, including nine gold medals. They have also won numerous medals at the National Senior Games.
Over two days and 17 events in men’s and women’s competition, 52 age group records were broken.
Also joining elite company as the newest member of the Florida Senior Games’ 300 Club, was Salvatore Principe, of Bradenton. Principe is the sixth member of the club and bowled a perfect game in his third and final game of Men’s Singles to win the 60-64 age group gold medal.
“It’s ironic because my previous 300’s were in the final game,” Principe said. “In the earlier games today, there were a lot of high scores. The lanes were conducive to high scores.”
Principe’s 12th and final strike of the game came when he crossed over to what he the “Brooklyn side.” Instead of hitting the right side of the head pin, it crossed over to the left side of the head pin.
“It was probably my worst shot of the day,” he said. “I just got lucky that it went across and got it. When you bowl a 300 game, you’ve got to have some luck.”
Principe grew up bowling in Brooklyn, N.Y., and in leagues as an adult in New Jersey had never bowled a perfect game. Since moving to Bradenton four years ago, he has rolled three. It was his second consecutive Men’s Singles gold medal in the 60-64 age group.
After Men’s and Women’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles and Singles competition, Gregory Lindsay, of North Fort Myers and Ginger Barbracovey, of Cantonment, earned the FSG Bowling Most Pins Award. Gregory knocked down 2,031 pins along the way to a gold, silver, and bronze medal. Barbracovey, who won Women’s Doubles gold, a Women’s Singles silver, and had a fourth-place finish sent 1,998 pins to the floor.
A pair of long-time medal winners continued their winning ways in Men’s and Women’s Singles Tennis as Martha Poitevent, of St. Augustine and Barry Shollenberger, of Valrico won their respective championship matches.
Poitevent won her seventh consecutive Women’s Singles gold medal, in the 70-74 age group, dating back to the 2012 Games. She defeated Joanne Collier, of Mulberry, 6-0, 6-2 in the championship match. Shollenberger won his second gold in three years in the 75-79 age group, defeating Bob Mason, of Dewey, Okla., 6-1, 6-2, in the final.
Scott Reid, of Tampa, and Larry Ardito, of Bonita Springs, were double gold medal winners earning Men’s Singles and Doubles Racquetball medals over the weekend at Richey Racquet.
Reid won the Men’s Singles 50-54 division winning two matches Saturday, and teamed with Edward Powers, of Venice, to win four matches and earn the Men’s Doubles 50-54 age group gold medals.
In the second day of competition at the Clearwater Lawn Bowls and Shuffleboard Complex, Linda Armstrong, of Lakeland, Donald Greenlee, of The Villages, and Paul Allaire, of Clearwater, picked up their second gold medals of the weekend.
Armstrong teamed with Carol Helfer, of The Villages, to win the 65-69 age group. Greenlee partnered with Paul Ayotte, also of The Villages, while Allaire and Pete Desjardins, of Safety Harbor, won their third consecutive gold medal in the 80-84 age group. Allaire, at 97 years old, had to play down two age groups to team with the younger Desjardins.
Following a full weekend of activity, the 2018 Florida Senior Games Calendar takes a breather on Monday with only two sports in action. Table Tennis begins at 8:00 a.m. at The Long Center with 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, and 65-69 age groups on the tables. Men’s and Women’s Doubles Tennis takes the courts at the Innisbrook Resort.
Over 2,600 athletes are competing in the 2018 Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana, in Clearwater and Pinellas County through December 9. The 2018 Games are a qualifier for the 2019 National Senior Games, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 14-25.