Here’s a message to all you middle-aged Generation-X’ers:
The era that came right before you is not slowing down, and the mid-60’s is the new mid-40’s — or 30’s.
But in Linda Fulton’s case, the number needs to read what it really is, 67, so she can keep competing in the swimming pool with her peers in the National Senior Games.
Fulton, a Celebration resident, added to an impressive total of medals hanging from her mantle at last week’s National Games in Albuquerque, N.M.
She earned golds in the 50 and 200-meter backstroke and 50 butterfly, silver in the 100 backstroke and a fourth-place in the 50 freestyle in the 65-69 age group. She won the 200 meters in 2:50.06, a new national record that broke the one set at the 2017 Games — by Fulton.
While the State Senior Games are held annually, the National Games are bi-annual, and state-level winners earn places there. 2017 was Fulton’s first national games, and she won gold in the 50, 100 and 200 backstrokes there as well in Birmingham, Ala.
Her competing is part of a level of activity she didn’t have until bi-lateral knee replacement surgery in 2015. She’d competed in swimming in her early life — she was an All-American at Texas Christian University in the 1970’s —
“It made it possible for me to do a racing dive,” the still-working fitness instructor (you’ll find her at the Thacker Avenue YMCA on Mondays) said. “Before that if I tried it my knees would shake for like 20 minutes, so I could only compete in the backstroke (from a start in the pool). I could hardly walk four years ago, and now after hard work I’m competing and it feels great! I give God all the glory for that.”
It’s a great comeback for Fulton, who said she swam in the Olympic Trials in 1968, but went about 40 years without competing.
It’s this newfound turn in life that Fulton says she wants to use to help everybody her age, like the ones who take her fitness classes at the various YMCAs she works at.
“Instead of growing older, I call it, ‘growing bolder,’” she said. “I try to inspire people. If you have a passion, be it sports, art, science, what have you, keep doing it for as long as you can.”
Fulton was among a handful of Osceola County athletes who competed in Albuquerque — and found success. Erica Gonzalez of Solivita won gold in singles, silver in women’s doubles with partner Jackie Ebner and bronze in mixed doubles with Dale Guess in pickleball.