For many people, the day-to-day hustle and bustle and the exhaustion they feel at the end of the day makes getting in shape seem like an unachievable goal. But for Brownwood’s Lyndon Brownlee and Paul Swanson, staying in shape helps them achieve their goals in the Senior Olympics.
Brownlee and Swanson have been competing for more than eight years at the Senior Games and are doubles partners in tennis. They won first place seven of the eight years they have competed and the one time they didn’t win overall, they took second.
Brownlee and Swanson agreed the primary reason they got involved in the Senior Games was for their health and to stay in shape.
“It's something to do,” said Swanson.
Brownlee added, “It's good for us.”
The state Senior Games competition has been held in San Antonio for the last several years, but prior to that it had been held in Kerrville. Both Brownlee and Swanson prefer that the games be held in San Antonio, they said, because they can take their wives and make a weekend out of it.
“We love to take our wives to San Antonio,” said Brownlee.
Swanson joked, “It's the only way we could get permission to go.”
Outside of playing in the Senior Games, Brownlee and Swanson also compete in the USTA, the United States Tennis Association. Whereas the Senior Games divide competitors by their age bracket, the USTA sets up competition based on skill level.
The skill levels in the USTA are devised by a grade system. Competitors are graded by a committee and they then determine skill level and competitors of each participant.
“We played in a tournament last weekend in Corpus Christi,” said Brownlee. “We made it to the semi-finals.”
Both Brownlee and Swanson agreed that this was the biggest difference between the Senior Games and the USTA. In the Games, they would only play competitors in their own age range and not necessarily the same skill level.
Swanson said, “But it's not any easier.”
“There are still a lot of good, older tennis players,” said Brownlee, “… most of them are pretty competitive.”
Both agreed that one of the perks of playing in the Senior Games is the opportunity to socialize with people from all over the state.
“When you’ve played so many times, you get to know people,” said Swanson.
“You meet a lot of nice people and socialize, but when we play, it's all business,” said Brownlee.
The duo picks and chooses the tournaments they play in, but can often be found playing tennis at the Howard Payne University courts. They train for USTA tournaments and the Senior Games by playing tennis several times a week, riding bicycles and walking.
They have played all over the state including Austin, Abilene, Waco, San Antonio and several other cities. They have qualified for the National Senior Games and received invitations to go to nationals several times, but due to scheduling conflicts have been unable to attend. Both say their goal is to go to nationals, which is a week-long competition usually in a different state.
Brownlee has competed in singles tennis as well and won two gold medals and one silver.
Swanson is a skilled pool player and has competed in the billiards competition at the Senior Games, winning first place.
“There is some really tough competition in that area,” said Swanson.
He has played singles in other competitions, but not the Senior Games. He said he wanted to have Brownlee there to help him because he is a really good tennis partner.
Brownlee and Swanson both recommended getting involved in an event like the Senior Games if for nothing else than the health benefits.
“Fitness is the main thing and the competition,” said Brownlee.
Swanson added, “It is a fun competition.”