- Human Interest
50 years away not enough to dampen competitive spirit
Jack Bevier was born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1932, but he grew up in New York, Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee. By the time he turned 19 and joined the service, he had had 25 legal addresses. But through all those residence changes, the constant was swimming. “I cannot remember ever not knowing how to swim,” he reflects. Bevier's competitive swimming career began as a 12-year-old when he started military school, where he swam for the next six years. He says his event was the 200 freestyle because no one else would swim it.
Then he spent 50 years out of the water.
In 2001 Bevier found Masters swimming when he started working at the local YMCA in Wenatchee, Wash. He had to relearn freestyle and, at 75 years old, he learned how to swim butterfly. He still has two more strokes to learn, “But I’ve got the rest of my life to learn them in!” he quips.
The Wenatchee Valley Masters are Bevier’s motivation to swim three days a week from 5:30-7 a.m. with his “great coach,” Carolyn MaGee. He attends about six swim meets a year and goes to Nationals, “When I have a ride.” His favorite meet so far was the Canadian Masters Nationals in 2012 held in Calgary, Alberta, where he won the 200-meter butterfly in the 75-79 age group. The thing that made the Canadian Nationals so much fun was that they could actually pronounce his French last name. The locals assumed he was one of them and in every race they wildly cheered him on.
Bevier plans on being a part of Masters swimming for a long time to come. His goal is “To be the oldest name in the record book,” he says. Which event? “Any of ‘em!”