Let the Games Begin

Northern Virginia Senior Olympics competitions are going on around the region.

It is a bright sunny day at Chesterbrook Swimming & Tennis Club in McLean on Sunday, Sept. 19 as the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics (NVSO) diving competition leads off two weeks of events.

“Much better than the usual inside diving venues,” according to Kim Alderman, a long-time competitor. He explains the diving boards are much better.

“And it’s nice in the sunshine,” according to his wife Karen Alderman, also a long-time competitor.

Kim and Karen are from Arlington where there were no swimming pools available for practice during Covid. But Kim says he was lucky to find Montgomery Pool. However, Karen had Covid and had to recover for a while.

Mandy Whalen, who lives at Goodwin House in Falls Church, says she had no pool available for 18 months. “I was back in the water for the first time when we started to practice for this.”

This year the 12 competitors are from all over the N. Virginia area including Guinevere Meyer, Alexandria; Carol Mackela, Springfield; Carlos Rodriguez, Dumfries; Douglas Bell, Vienna; Mandy Whalen, Falls Church; Stephen Neal, Chantilly. The games are held at venues all over the area and are open to competitors who will be 50 years and over by December 2021.

The diving event is divided into age groups with the 50-54 and 55-59 required to do 6 dives or skills; 60-64 and 65-69 required to do 5 dives or skills and 70-74 and older required to do four dives or skills.

Carlos Rodriguez from Dumfries says, “I’m 81 so there are only two of us oldies in my category.” He is entered in 15 NVSO events this year. “I’ve been competing in the NVSO for 10 years and every year I add 2-3 events. This year I’m entered in diving, swimming, field events and horseshoes.” In 2019 he entered in seven events in the National Senior Olympics in Albuquerque and is planning for the Nationals next year in Ft. Lauderdale where, he has relatives.

Jeanne Moscarillo from Lovettsville says, “I am competing for the first time this year. I haven’t dived since high school but someone just gave me a form in the Community Center so here I am.”

Five judges line the side of the pool with their flash cards ready to flip open after each dive. Kim explains all judging is relative and styles change. Twenty years ago a full out with 2 1/2 somersaults and 2 twists wasn’t judged very high. He explains it’s not pretty but when they started using it in the Senior Olympics, the judging changed.

“Judges are supposed to judge in the same manner but it changes from year to year. You wonder how they are going to judge today.” He doesn’t know if they’ll age-adjust today.

Carol Mackela is from Springfield, a long-time local as well as national and international competitor. She carefully adjusts the fulcrum on the diving board before starting her dive.

Karen Alderman explains the fulcrum controls the springiness of the board. “I can only do my back dives with the fulcrum tight.”

The practice is complete and judges sit ready. The announcer calls out “the diving order is as follows.” And the medals sit on the table ready for the final ceremony.

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