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by Meegan Wilson

April 28, 2008

Gold in her golden years

"Hello", says Doris Prokopi, "I am 72 years young." Doris was born in Cologne Germany, but has been living in Florida for the past 52 years. "So you could say that I'm a Floridian," Doris said. Thirteen years ago at the age of 59, she started swimming in the Senior Games and she thoroughly enjoyed it. She went to almost all of the Games in Florida, competing almost monthly. Each year she adds more events, not limiting her competition to just swimming. "Tampa and Gainesville are my most favorites," said Doris." Last year, (2006) I competed in the running, long jump, high jump, and swimming." At the Games in Tampa she competed in 32 events and received 27 gold medals, the rest were silver and bronze. In the swimming events in Gainesville she gets mostly gold.

Besides swimming, she played three on three basketball and "had a ball". She felt pretty famous since she was on television two times, channel 10 and 13 and she was also featured in the Tampa Tribune newspaper. Doris lives in Land O'Lakes, which is about a half an hour drive from Tampa. At the YMCA she swims for two hours and then puts in a half hour on the tread mill. She competes in many Florida LMSC sanctioned swimming events and has several USMS Top 10 finishes, 195 as of 2007. Doris said, "I like the long swims. I like being active."

In 2005, Doris became a USMS All-American swimmer finishing first in the 10K USMS Postal Championship in the 65-69 age group with a time of four hours, 16 minutes, 40.52 seconds. The next year, in 2006, she finished with a faster time taking first place in 70-74 age group with a time of four hours, three minutes, 28.48 seconds. She also finished first in the 5K that year achieving All-American status in both events. She was awarded the "Most Valuable Open Water/Distance Swimmer Of The Year Award" at the Annual Florida LMSC Awards Banquet in 2005 and 2007 and was also one of the Open Water/Long Distance Florida Top Ten Swimmers in 2006. Doris has earned the Florida Leather Lung award for the past three years 2005 - 2007 by completing all five USMS Postal Championships. In 2005 and 2006 she was also one of the "Florida Top 10 Swimmers Of The Year" in pool events. Her husband, Bill, travels with Doris to many of her competitions. During the Gainesville Senior Games, they stay with their son Eric who lives there.

"He lives around the corner from the pool," said Doris. "He studied engineering at the University of Florida, but ended up studying fossils." Eric now has his own business. Doris likes swimming the best of all the other sports. Her specialty is breaststroke, but she competes in all the strokes. She was the 1994 Florida Senior Games State Championships Female Athlete of the Year. As of 2007 she holds Florida Senior Games records in the 50 breaststroke in three different age groups, 60-64, 65-69, and 70-74. "When I started," she said, "all of my medals were gold. I have at least over 1,000 gold medals and 50 trophies." Doris competes for, and is one of the founders of the Florida Maverick Masters. She volunteers her time and helped out when the Mavericks hosted the 2007 One Hour Postal swim. She has been on some postal relays with her teammates.

In 2005 she was teamed up with Victoria Coleman and Ruth Thompson to finish first in the 3x 6K postal relay for the women's 19+ age group. In 2007, she, Patricia Bond and Ruth Hoskinson finished first in the women's 65+ age group in the 3x 3000 postal relay. Doris has also had some All-American relay swims in pool events. In 2003, swimming butterfly, she was teamed with Patricia Tullman, Gertrude Zint and Marianne Vann to finish first in the 200-SCM medley relay, women 280-319, in a time of 4:02.17. That same year, the team of Prokopi, Tullman, Jean Troy, and Florence Carr finished first in the 400-SCM freestyle relay with a winning time of 7:01.56. In 2005, again swimming the fly leg, she, along with Tullman, Margie Hutinger, and Jean Allen achieved a first place finish in the 400-LCM medley relay in the women 240-279 age group and in 2007, swimming breaststroke, she was teamed with Tullman, Allen, and Margaret Homans to finish first in the women 280-319, 400-SCM medley relay. That same year, Prokopi and her relay teammates, Tullman, Bond, and Troy, finished first in the 400-LCM freestyle relay in the women's 280-319 age group.

See Also Oral History contribution by Margie Hutinger.