By Mandy CoristonThe National Senior Games took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico from June 14-25, and Byram residents Carol and Richard Schubert recently returned from taking part in the swimming competitions there. The games, an Olympic-style contest for athletes aged 50 and over, were founded in 1987, take place biennially, and draw an average of 10,000 participants. This is the first time the Schuberts, who are avid swimmers, participated in the National Games, and Carol, age 66, said the experience was like no other athletic event. “I’ve been a recreational swimmer for years, and my husband was a competitive swimmer all through school and college. He swims with the Garden State Master Swimmers now, which is how we found out about the Senior Games,” she said, “I’d actually wanted to play pickleball, but the registration maxed out so quickly, I trained to swim instead.” Mrs. Shubert said that the opening ceremony was a highlight for the couple, who got to walk into the host stadium with the full contingent of New Jersey athletes, numbering about 70. She also said the game facilities, including the West Mesa Aquatic Center where they swam, were beautiful and well-appointed. “We also took in a lot of the other competitions,” she said, “We even got to see that 103-year-old runner, Julia Hawkins, run her races. It was really a wonderful time. We had time to explore Albuquerque, too. Very different landscape, but lovely!”Mrs. Shubert competed in the 50 meter freestyle, and said she was “pleased to have not finished last.” Her husband, 67-year-old Richard, swam in 5 events and took ribbons in the 200 meter backstroke and the 200 meter individual medley. “He did very well,” she said, “He’s been training hard since his surgery last year. He couldn’t even swim at all for a few months.” In addition to being a highly competitive swimmer, Mr. Schubert was a kidney donor in June of 2018, the oldest on record at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. The Schuberts swim locally at the Sussex County YMCA in Hardyston and at the Frog Falls Aquatic Park at Picatinny Arsenal. The next National Senior Games will be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 2021, and the Schuberts want to encourage others to consider taking part. In New Jersey, athletes can begin qualifying for 2021 by competing at the NJ Senior Olympics to be held in Woodbridge on Sep 6-8, 2019. Sports to be included in that event are: archery, basketball, billiards, bocce, bowling, cycling, darts, fencing, golf, horseshoes, miniature golf, pickleball, racquetball, tennis, softball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, and track and field. “It was so great to go to the games and see so many seniors staying active,” Mrs. Schubert said, “This is something a lot of people can participate in, so we want to spread the word. You don’t have to be a super athlete. Everyone can go out there and try.” For more information on the National Senior Games, details can be found online at www.nsga.com. To learn more about getting involved with the NJ Senior Olympics, seniors can visit www.njseniorolympics.com.