“She always teaches us and motivates us”
On a recent morning by the pool at Mercer Island Country Club, a man glanced at swimmer Wendy Hoffman sporting a pair of gold medals around her neck and said he was impressed with the awards.
Those gold medals were just two of Hoffman’s top four finishes at last month’s Washington State Senior Games at the Briggs Community YMCA near Olympia. The aquatic athlete added two silver medals to his tally for the games.
Hoffman, who turned 60 Aug. 2, won gold medals in the 60-64 age group in the 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard butterfly, 100-yard freestyle and 400-yard individual medley; his silver medals came in the 200 yard IM and 200 yard breaststroke. Games also included tennis, golf, track and field, archery, softball, bowling and more.
“A lot of swimming practice ahead of time,” the 30-year-old Mercer Island resident said of her success at the games. “I’ve swum around 20,000 meters a week, up to over 400 miles so far this year. I swim long distances so I just need that distance to maintain stamina. I don’t not come out very fast, but I can continue at the same speed.
In 2021, Hoffman – who typically swims six days a week – hit the milestone of amassing 1 million meters at the local pool that year. That high mark translates to 568 miles, which she hit about a month early. She finished the year with 620 miles under her belt.
The Unionville, Canada native started swimming as a child in an age group club and stayed in the sport through her college days. She returned to the pool in her thirties with a masters club and continued her journey one shot at a time into her sixth decade.
“I think it helps a lot just to stay active, to stay healthy, and I think it’s helped me with my arthritis, so I have the strength in my legs just to keep going,” said Hoffman, who has lost 16 seconds over the past seven years in the 400 IM. It’s her favorite event because she likes to use butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle throughout the race.
While checking the array of medals in front of her, Hoffman said, “It’s kind of humiliating. I keep thinking that I’m just a regular swimmer. I’m just someone who goes out and does what I do, but I always see other people who are older and who carry on and that’s my motivation – to carry on.
Success follows Hoffman wherever she dives into the water. In the full year leading up to the recent Washington State Senior Games, Hoffman was ranked 16th nationally in the 200-yard butterfly and 23rd nationally in the 400-yard IM in the 55-59 age group. in the masters yard season.
Dina Deitz, who swims in a group with Hoffman and three other ladies from the island’s national club, said Hoffman brings out the best in her fellow swimmers.
“She always teaches us and motivates us, but when she competes in swimming, what she does the most is impress and inspire us. When Wendy is not in the pool, she is doing something else. ‘active: paddleboarding, hiking, cross-country skiing or walking the dog,’ Deitz said.
Hoffman said she particularly thrives in the group situation experiencing camaraderie and setting and achieving group goals.
“We are rooting. Some people are better at certain things, so you always try to keep up. Someone is better at the shorter distances, the 25s, which I’m not as good at. So I try to follow them there, and it just inspires you to go on and show up,” Hoffman said.
While training recently, Hoffman’s mind focused on the connection between swimming and life. It is necessary to do the daily work to reap the rewards – in and out of the pool.