News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Knight Foundation

Meaden & Moore

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us

The nation's top senior athletes converge on Cleveland this week
National Senior Games begin Friday, and a local swimmer says he has a distinct advantage

Kevin Niedermier
Retired Cleveland architect Peter Van Dijk will compete in several swimming events in this week's National Senior Games.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Thousands of competitors in sports ranging from the triathlon to shuffleboard and horseshoes are coming to Cleveland this week for the National Senior Games. The event, held every two years, features athletes 50 and over -- well over in many cases. WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier caught up with a local swimmer who’s hoping for more gold.

Click to listen

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:23)

Retired Cleveland architect Peter Van Dijk has designed many of the area’s landmarks, including the Blossom Music Center stage and downtown Cleveland’s federal building. He led the restoration of Playhouse Square’s theaters and renovation of an old post office into the Akron Art Museum.
On a recent morning at the Cleveland Skating Club pool, the 84-year-old just finished his two-hour training routine to prepare for the Senior Games swimming competition.

National Senior Games, July 19-Aug. 1

Besides the competition itself, here are some of the big events of the National Senior Games over the next two weeks.

Opening Senior Games Festival:
Friday, 4:30-9:30 p.m.
Mall B, Cleveland Convention Center
Fireworks, games, food, entertainment by Rusted Root and The Danger Brothers; flame arrives at 8 p.m.

Red carpet screening of the documentary “Age of Champions”
Monday, July 22, 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; plus 12:30 p.m. Q&A with athletes featured in the film
Cleveland Convention Center

Free Cleveland Community Senior Walk
Thursday, July 25, 10 a.m.
Mall C, Cleveland Convention Center

Also featured throughout the games are daily musical themes, and special events including art and car shows and a farmer’s market


“I’m glad I’ve always done this because it’s a sport you can get very good at and get very good exercise as well. And you don’t get injured. I suppose you could drown, but that’s about it.”

Van Dijk started swimming in the tropics as a child
Van Dijk is the son of a Dutch Shell Oil manager and grew-up around oil fields in what is now Indonesia and in Venezuela, tropical areas where swimming is a popular year-round activity. His family moved to the United States when he was a teenager, and he began swimming competitively in high school, college and in the Army. He won championships at all levels.

Van Dijk then when went on to win multiple national and international championships in masters events. Now, he’s training four to five days a week for his first National Senior Games appearance.

“I’ll go in the pool and swim 500 yards backstroke, just to warm up and work on my turns, which are a little rusty. And then I’ll do 500 yards freestyle with one arm, then another 500 yards with the other arm.”

Training extends beyond the pool
Van Dijk’s training continues with thousands more yards in the pool to prepare for the 50-yard free style and backstroke and the 100-yard free style and backstroke. And his training continues outside the pool as well.

“I try to eat lots of protein and get lots of rest and just take good care of myself. I’ll have a martini every night, but just one. My doctor says that’s not bad for you. In fact, during a recent check up he said whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”

Exponential growth in less than 25 years
Giving people the motivation to keep active after age 50 is one of the Senior Games goals. Executive Director Marc Riker says the event began in 1987 and attracted 2,500 athletes in 15 sports. This year’s event in Cleveland will draw about 11,000 athletes competing in 19 sports. And Riker predicts spectators will be amazed at the level of athleticism on display.

The events will be held at the Cleveland Convention Center, Cleveland State University, and at Case Western Reserve University. Everything is free to the public. An estimated 30,000 people are expected to come to Cleveland for the two-week event.

'Home-pool advantage'
Though former Cleveland architect Peter Van Dijk has competed and won in swimming at all levels for most of his life, he thinks he may have a distinct advantage when he takes to the water in next week’s competition.

“The swimming venue is at the Cleveland State natatorium. It’s a building I designed 40 years ago. So I guess you could call it my home pool advantage.”

Opening ceremonies for Cleveland’s Senior Games are Friday at the Convention Center featuring the arrival of the torch, fireworks, and musical entertainment by the band Rusted Root.                                                           

(Click image for larger view.)

Related Links & Resources
National Senior Games

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Backers of legalizing marijuana in Ohio promise to be back in 2016
We should be aloud to grow more than 4 plants and not have to register with the state considering it will be a free market.

Akron says it's had no second thoughts about welcoming refugees
What business does Councilman Neal own on North Hill? I'd love to support him. I am so glad to have the refugees in our neighborhood. I have lived here for 25 ...

Scarborough says the University of Akron is trying to rebuild relationships
In order for the University of Akron to grow and become a desirable place for students across Ohio and elsewhere, it must address the crime problem in the Akron...

Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite wants to end pay-to-play sports fees at Ohio's schools
You can bet Hite and Husted will also rush to the rescue of the Academic Challenge team, the speech-and-debate squad, the Science Olympians and the chess club. ...

Ohio lawmakers consider new gun bills
States that have gun restrictions/cities have reduced gun violence is false. CHICAGO has some of the toughest gun laaws/restrictions but yet fun violence is off...

Cleveland's public transit system considers fare increase for 2016
I work with individuals with disabilities. Yes some of my folks need more help than the average person. As a whole, the group I work with however can manuver ju...

Community group sues to re-open part of Wadsworth hospital
My father was part of the founding group of citizens which started the "new" Wadsworth/Rittman Hospital. For some reason the leadership for the future of the ho...

The Cleveland Museum of Art presents painters who loved their gardens
brilliant masterpiece, Greetings from

Ohio Sen. Tom Patton proposes bill for firefighter cancer benefits
Thank you Senator Patton. On behalf of all of those who love our firefighters; we appreciate that someone is standing up for them and their continued health. ??...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University