Amended 2021 Qualification Process Announcement
The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) hopes you are doing well and finding ways to stay healthy and strong. Together we are in the midst of uncharted territory as the pandemic has affected all of us in a variety of ways. Every major event and sports organization has been impacted. This situation has required a one-time adjustment for the 2021 National Senior Games qualifying process.
NSGA understood the need to develop options for alternative qualifying rules. The main concerns were to act in the best interest of the athletes, and to honor the qualifying process for those states who could conduct games while providing an alternative method for our loyal athletes to participate in the next National Senior Games. Each of our Member Games will continue to communicate with their athletes on their plans to conduct games in 2020.
In preparation of the 2021 National Senior Games presented by Humana, NSGA has established a registration process which includes a Priority Registration Period for qualified athletes followed by an Open Registration Period to accommodate athletes age 50+ unable to attend or qualify at a state senior games in 2020. Registration dates will be announced later this year. NSGA reserves the right to make further adjustments to the National Senior Games qualification and registration.
Qualification for Priority Registration Period
- If a state qualifying senior games is ABLE to conduct Games or specific sports/events in 2020, the qualification standards for the sports/events as specified in the 2021 NSGA Rulebook will determine qualifiers. In addition athletes from that state’s senior games who qualified for the 2019 National Senior Games in Albuquerque, NM will also qualify in the respective sports/events for the National Senior Games in 2021 (i.e., qualifiers from 2018 respective sports/events from that state’s senior games).
- If a state qualifying senior games is UNABLE to conduct Games or specific sports/events in 2020, athletes from that state’s senior games who qualified for the 2017 National Senior Games in Birmingham, AL and/or 2019 National Senior Games in Albuquerque, NM will qualify in the respective sports/events for the 2021 National Senior Games (i.e., qualifiers from 2016 and/or 2018 respective sports/events from that state’s senior games).
- The number of registrants may be limited for certain sports.
Open Registration Period
- An Open Registration period will also be offered to athletes age 50+, who were unable to attend or qualify at a state senior games in 2020.
- This will follow the Priority Registration Period.
- The number of registrants may be limited for certain sports.
Change in Power Walk Qualification
- Power Walk will continue as an Open Sport for the 2021 National Senior Games presented by Humana. Qualification will not be required for Power Walk.
As further registration information becomes available it will be announced in this newsletter and posted on our website.
Alternative Home Exercise Web Page Adds Well-Being Resources
With fitness centers, sport venues and gyms still closed in many areas, NSGA reminds you we have gathered resources on our Alternative Home Exercises and Well-being Resources web page, where you will find articles and demonstration videos with advice from partners like the American Academy of Exercise, the National Institute on Aging, NSGA Partner Ageility, the YMCA, and athlete experts. New links are being added weekly. #StayFitSeniors!
May Athlete of the Month
A Phish Out of Water
The pandemic has disrupted all sports, but perhaps none as much as swimming. Cross training is a part of preparing for competition, but when there’s no pool, swimmers are literally fish out of water.
We called Philipp Djang, one of the most decorated swimmers in National Senior Games history, to see how he was managing the pause in action. He reported he had just moved 1,700 pounds of flagstone in a home landscaping project. “We still have 36 tons of gravel to spread around. The first day I think we moved seven tons of rock, and that night I slept like a rock!”
Philipp, or “The Phish” as he is nicknamed, admits that was the first night in over a month that he had slept through the night and not tossed and turned missing his routines. “But I’m an optimist for the most part,” he adds. “Things will get going again, facilities will open up, but we’ll get back to a different normal. What that is, I don’t know.”
At just the age of 65, he has already amassed 34 Gold and eight Silver Medals and set 21 NSGA records since his National Senior Games debut in 2005. In masters swimming, he has set 15 national records and 10 individual world records. “My last record was broken in December. That one lasted seven years.”
History reveals Philipp is a chronic overachiever. He graduated high school at only 16 “as a nerdy kid,” holds four degrees, and has logged a distinguished 35-year military career, much of it at the Army Research Laboratory at White Sands, New Mexico. He was even awarded a patent in 2011. Of everything, though, he’s most proud to have been born and spent most of his life in Las Cruces.
Philipp competed in high school and his first four college years before exploring triathlons, marathons and playing racquetball. At 45, he got back in the lane with masters swimming. “I did it just for fun and to hang out with the guys, but at my first meet I accidentally set a world record. That was a surprise to me!”
He was guided into Senior Games by Dr. Jack Welch, a state legend who had started the men’s and women’s swim teams at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. “Jack taught me to swim at age 10,” he relates. “He was the swimming and track event coordinator for the New Mexico Senior Olympics, and I helped him out for about five years when I started. He has also competed in them.”
Philipp says he is “doing all kinds of dry land stuff” to train and estimates it will take at least six weeks in the pool to be in competition shape. “You have to find the intrinsic value of exercise, whether it’s in the water or on a track,” he says. “There’s motivation for medals and records, but it’s really about getting out there to exercise, have fun and suffer a little bit.”
He also misses being around his fellow swimmers. “It’s a common feeling right now, being isolated,” he notes. “I’m sure they’re missing the camaraderie as much as I am. You can chat online and over the phone, but that’s nothing like standing stark naked in the shower telling jokes!”
“A number of my friends say they would give their eye teeth just to see their teammates again,” he continues. “Athletes are all in the same boat, except all the swimmers want to be in the water!”
Philipp is especially excited about the location of the next National Senior Games in November of 2021. “My masters competition team is actually Swim Fort Lauderdale, so I am really looking forward to compete there.”
Reflecting on his shared plight with other athletes, he concludes, “It will be a chance for all of the athletes to show they’ve weathered this crisis and they’ve come through stronger than ever. It will be a great way for us to celebrate as champions over the pandemic.”
Got a great story to share about yourself or an athlete you admire? We want to hear from you! To submit yours, or to nominate a fellow athlete, Please Click Here.
Senior Health and Wellness
Apply the Four Stages of Aging for Your Best Performance
In the March newsletter, we shared a Q&A covering several key elements of a solid senior athlete-training program with Coach Roy Benson, an accomplished exercise scientist, distance-running coach and author of three books, including the widely read Heart Rate Training.
Drawing on his vast experience, Benson offers discussion below on the “Four Stages of Aging.” While the following relates primarily to endurance sports such as swimming, cycling and running, these general principles of conditioning apply to all sports skills. Additional concepts, such as overload and specificity affect archers, bowlers, free throw shooters and anyone training muscles to make perfect skilled movements. However, over many years of training and competing, we tend to overuse our body’s parts and pieces before our time is up. Here is Coach Benson’s sage advice:
Recently I wrote about the “Four Stages of Aging” that a runner could expect to experience while attempting to stay in shape for a lifetime. My point was that anyone, whether starting at age 7 or 77, would find a certain amount of truth to my descriptions about the negative impacts of repetitive movements on the body’s musculo-skeletal systems while, at the same time, enjoying positive impacts on the cardio-respiratory systems.
It seems that the sport-specific, biomechanical skills we must develop wear out our joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and bones in a way that only aging does to our hearts and lungs. I have never heard a retired athlete say that he or she stopped competing because of all the pounding, stress and strain, constant soreness, aches and pains in their hearts and lungs. No, it is always their feet, legs, hips or backs they blame for having to quit their sports. Therefore, as it seems to be true for runners’ legs, the process could be labeled for folks from other sports in four stages: Adolescent, Adult, Aging and Ancient Stages of Fitness.
My general observations, many anecdotal reports, and a survey of long-time runners revealed that these stages lasted on average 10 years. A lengthy section for the new edition of Heart Rate Training describes in non-scientific language what happens in each stage. Now, let us return to the discussion about regulating workout intensity, and let me be much more specific about recommendations for each stage of athletic aging.
Adolescent Fitness Stage training requires learning how to push to exhaustion in order to find your limits for tolerance of pain and suffering. Peak, personal record performances happen when you learn to NOT stop short at, just say for example, 92% of your maximum effort and heart rate (HR.) Over lots of trials in both workouts and competition, the athlete in you will learn how to push to up to that last percent of 100% effort. However, consistency is the most important attribute of conditioning. When injuries compromise training and competing because of “The Dreaded Too’s” from going too hard, too often, and for too long, it’s time to grow up and start training like a smart adult.
Adult Fitness Stage training should now be capped at max efforts in practice of 90-95% HR. By backing off the killer workouts, one might find a new period of setting personal records thanks, ironically, to feeling fresher and stronger. Save the all-out 100% efforts for competition. You will already know what pain, torture and agony feels like so spare the musculo-skeletal parts of your body. The latter years in this stage may also benefit from cutting back on the frequency of the hard workouts. However, when it is impossible to be satisfied with diminishing performances, it is probably time for the third stage.
Aging Fitness Stage workouts should now be capped at the less anaerobically intensive effort of 80-85% max HR. The objective now is to avoid frequent lactic acid producing efforts that tie up your working muscles and put undue strains on your tendons and joints and bones. Making a muscle lengthen and stretch through a big range of movement when it is in oxygen debt and loaded with lactic acid is too risky and too likely to cause injuries. Training at your anaerobic threshold will keep your parts and pieces intact and your heart and lungs ready for any challenge that life’s stair steps offer. You will be slower and you may have to shorten your training sessions, but you can at least participate in races. You may even be competitive in your age groups until you find yourself in the next stage.
The Ancient Fitness Stage has just one goal: to keep moving until it’s toes up time. If, same as your author, you want to stay fit your entire lifetime, but you are so slow that it is too embarrassing to show up at competitions and finish last, then just limit your exercising upper efforts to anywhere from 60 to 75% max HR. Rest assured that washing your entire collection of body cells with lots of extra O2 molecules every day is the wisest thing you can do. Oxygen is the real Staff of Life. Now is the time to suck in all you can get every day. Use whatever mode of movement that your old joints and muscles will allow to maintain duration. In short, keep moving and do not look back. You will still be ahead of 97% of the population.
Remember to think like a scientist conducting an experiment. Using the above recommendations for intensity over the different stages of your workout life is the wisest given. Build each stage using mode, duration and frequency as the variables around your goals, your strengths and weaknesses. With experience, you will let science teach you to be an artist.
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