Centenarian Still Enjoys Life in the Deep End
A Centenarian tells Jayne MacAulay how he maintains vigour, joy and vitality using his own four-part formula.
Photography by Dale Roth
At 101 (at the time of publication in July 2010), Jaring Timmerman stands like the athlete he is — erect, balanced and alert. For more than 20 years, he has been scooping up medals and world records as a Masters-level swimmer, following a regimen he calls GEDS, an acronym that stands for genes, exercise, diet and spirit.
Diet. “I don’t eat fat but do eat an egg every second day. Eggs have a lot of good qualities,” Timmerman says. “I eat walnuts and almonds and put peanut butter on my bread. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit and I eat lean meat.” He doesn’t touch alcohol, noting that wine in moderation may be good for health, but it’s not his preference. (One puff of a cigarette during his Air Force days convinced him smoking was not for him.)
Spirit. Have a good relationship with your Maker, he advises. It leads to good relations with your neighbour, which lifts your spirits, making you keen for whatever you do. “Enthusiasm is a great thing,” he says, especially with a goal in mind.
Through swimming, he’s found goals aplenty. In 1989, at the age of 80, during an annual stay in Arizona, Timmerman’s wife urged him to enter the state’s Senior Olympic Games. He thought he would be defeated by “ex-college champs,” but a gold medal in the 200-metre freestyle qualified him for the first National Senior Olympic Games (now the National Senior Games) in St. Louis, Mo., where he won a gold and two silvers in the 80-84 age category. At the World Masters Games in Aarhus, Denmark, he had similar results.
Since then, he’s competed throughout Canada and the U.S., winning age-category titles in several provinces and states and, finally, national titles. At 96, Timmerman won five gold medals at the 2005 World Masters Games in Edmonton, though they weren’t world records.