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Tebbetts will compete in her 7th national competition

By TIM GUERCIO

THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT

NATCHEZ — Rita Jones Tebbetts loves the water and has been a swimmer since she was a child.

“I have been swimming my whole life,” said Tebbetts who will turn 80 in August.

Age hasn’t dampened her spirit for swimming, either.

In fact, Tebbetts said, age has motivated her to stay healthy.

Tebbetts said she has been a member of and a swimmer at  at the Natchez Senior Center. since 1987.

“I have been lucky to have different instructors here in Natchez who gave me tips along the way.”

Tebbetts will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico, next week to compete in the 2019 National Senior Games, June 14-25. The National Senior Games Championships are held in a different city in the United States every two years.

Tebbetts will compete in the 80-84 age bracket.

This will be the seventh national competition for Tebbetts, who said she swims for recreation three days a week at the Natchez Senior Center.

However, on Sunday, June 16, Tebbetts will be in the pool in Albuquerque competing in the 50-meter breaststroke and the 100-meter backstroke. On the June 17 she enters the pool twice again to race the 100-meter breaststroke and the 200-meter backstroke.

On Tuesday the June 18 Tebbetts said she will attempt to win a gold medal in her best event, the 200-meter individual medley.

In the 2015 Senior Games in St. Paul, Minnesota, Tebbetts brought home one gold medal in the 200-meter individual medley and two bronze medals, one for the breaststroke and one for the backstroke she said.

Tebbetts said that the games were held in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2017, and that she did not win any medals.

Competition is a motivating factor for Tebbetts, she said, and for the last six months she has been in training with a double work load, by being in the pool six days a week, instead of three.

Tebbetts said she started swimming at the Natchez Senior Center indoor pool when she was 48 years old and now swims for good health. “At first, swimming kept me motivated, and it was fun, now I swim for my health. It helps my disk problems and my hip pain,” Tebbetts said. “I’d rather swim than walk or bike or run, those are too stressful on my joints.”