Bass Family…Party of Six!
In 1964, the Bass family loaded into their station wagon to head to the pool for yet another swim meet with their eight children. Parents William and Betty Jean ensured that all of the siblings attended meets, even if they didn’t compete, to cheer each other on. Swimming remains deeply a family affair over 55 years later at the 2023 National Senior Games presented by Humana.
The Bass family - fittingly named - is no stranger to the water. Most of them competitively swam on a community swim team in Brookside Park, Delaware, in their youth. But as the Bass children grew up and moved around the country to pursue their careers, they left swimming behind.
Two of the Bass siblings, Bruce and Gene, sadly passed away around five years ago in their mid-sixties. Roughly around the same time, Dennis, the third oldest, was working as a truck driver. During a drive through Birmingham, Alabama, in 2017, Dennis saw a billboard advertising the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana that were being held there. “I didn’t even know there was such a thing,” Dennis says. “So I stopped at the truck stop and started Googling about the National Senior Games…The next day I called my brother Fran on the phone and said, ‘You’re not gonna believe this, brother.’”
Dennis and Fran agreed that this was a chance for them to get together to have fun and get in shape. The next year, Dennis retired and subsequently started training for the Maryland Senior Games. Whenever he started, his younger siblings also took a liking to it, with all of them eventually joining him in competing. “...[W]e found it to be a way that we could connect again; something we all enjoyed, we could do together, be together as a family,” Dale Ann explains. “And even though we swim, it’s beyond that…[W]e have been able to sit down and have dinner together…tell old stories, old jokes.”
As the family came together to participate in the Senior Games, they were inspired to do so in memory of their late brothers, Bruce and Gene, who were considered the best swimmers of the Bass bunch. Even the siblings who never swam, Millie and Robert, began swimming in the Senior Games.
The 2023 Games mark the first time all six siblings have been together in the last 10 years for an occasion besides a funeral. “This is a special weekend for all of us,” shares Dennis.
Referring to participating in National Senior Games last year, Dennis remarks, “We did [the relay] last year, but we only had three siblings: myself, Dale, and Fran…[M]y sister said, ‘I’m sorry…I didn’t swim very fast’...and I told her, “I rather come in last place swimming with my family than come in first place and win a gold medal.’”
-By Zachary Grabowski