Shirley Chase of St. Augustine was among the St. Johns County residents to win medals at the 26th annual Florida Senior Games in Clearwater last month.
Chase, 92, won two gold medals and a silver in the swimming competition’s 90-94 age bracket. She won the 50-yard freestyle (1:36.51) and the 500-yard freestyle (21:24.82) and finished second in the 100 free (3:49.91).
Chase, who holds the 500-yard freestyle record, has been competing in the games for many years and plans to participate in the biennial National Senior Games for the third time in 2019 in New Mexico.
This year she was honored by Florida Senior Games sponsor Humana as a Humana Games Changer for “exemplifying healthy aging and providing encouragement, motivation and inspiration for all seniors.”
Chase credits swimming for giving her the strength to overcome various health issues, such as bad knees and a recent skin cancer diagnosis.
“It is amazing to watch her swim from year to year, especially at these games,” said Chase’s friend and coach, Mary Converse. “The swimmers look for her every year and can’t wait to see her swim. They give her standing ovations.”
Over 2,000 athletes competed at the Florida Senior Games on Dec. 2-10. Gabriel Wong of Ponte Vedra Beach won gold in both the men’s age 70-74 singles pickleball competition and the singles tennis event. In pickleball, he defeated Samy Noori of Dunedin for the championship. He beat Bruce Wyse, 6-1, 6-3 for the tennis title.
“I like both sports,” Wong said. “I’ve been playing tennis for 40 years and I just picked up pickleball two years ago.”
George Gamboa of Elkton and Sylvia Whitehouse of Palm Coast won the 50-54 mixed doubles pickleball title, defeating Erica Gonzalez of Poinciana and Terri Billington of Hernando, 11-6, 11-3, for the title.