Sterling Fulmer, left, with son Joe, as a rookie in the YMCA Masters National Swimming Championships in Sarasota three years ago. After taking up competitive swimming for the first time at the young age of 87, he came home with the gold medal for his age category and hasn’t stopped since!
From our friends at the Island Sun; article by Jeff Lysiak:
It’s never too late to try something new.
That’s the best advice Sterling Fulmer could offer, because he himself took that same advice many years ago from his son, Joe.
“Back in 1988, after I turned 60 years old, my son rode his bicycle across the United States for the American Lung Association,” recalled Fulmer, who first visited Sanibel the following year. “At the end of his trip, I met him on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. And the first thing he said to me was, ‘Dad, you’re gonna do this next year!’”
Fulmer, who had never participated in a cross-country ride, was hesitant at first. But then he took his son’s advice and signed up for the Seattle-to-Atlantic City adventure. He completed the nearly 2,900-mile marathon in 1989 and, now 30 years later, the nonagenarian is showing no signs of slowing down.
Earlier this month, Fulmer and several members of his family – including Joe, daughter Jaydn McCune and granddaughter Kelly McCune – took part in the 2019 YMCA Masters Swimming Nationals, held at the Roden Aquatic Center in Orlando. As a group, the family won a pair of bronze medals, competing in the 100-yard relay in both the freestyle and mixed stroke competitions.
But as a solo swimmer, Fulmer did even better. He captured first place in three competitions – the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and 200yard freestyle – earning a gold medal for each.
“There were over 500 swimmers competing at the event, but maybe only 20 of them there actually had any expectations of winning anything,” said Fulmer, standing on the dock of his Junonia Street home he shares with his wife, Bea. “I was as surprised as anybody.”
Fulmer completed the 50-yard race in 52.32, the 100-yard race in 2:00.54 and the 200-yard race in 4:40.66. Asked what it’s like to take part in a senior’s swimming competition, a wide smile came across his face. “When you’re standing on the edge of the pool, ready to make your dive, I’m thinking my goal is just to finish the race,” he said with a chuckle.
Originally from Lockhaven, Pennsylvania, Fulmer has always been active athletically. He used to run and swim for conditioning in his younger years. Later, he took up bicycling after his knees became too sore to run any longer. At age 80, he took part in his first parachute jump. At 87, he swam in his first aquatic competition. These days, he still swims two or three days each week at the Sanibel Recreation Center. As for others who might be thinking about taking part in a competition, the athletic senior shared some words of wisdom.
“If you’re thinking about entering a race but aren’t sure about it, my advice is to push the envelope… just try it,” said Fulmer. “You never know what will happen. And you might just like it. And you might even win.”