He did so while battling injuries and the New Mexico heat.
You think you’re prepared to stay hydrated. You live in Florida, after all.
Then you arrive in the dry Albuquerque, N.M, heat — and onto the city's massive elevation, at 5,312 feet on average. The sun’s rays, with temperatures reaching up to 93 degrees, suck your strength like a sponge. You drink more water, and you’re glad you brought enough lotion to keep your skin from cracking for the next two weeks.
Sarasota’s Rudy Vazmina dealt with said heat at the 2019 National Senior Games, held in Albuquerque from June 14 to June 25. Vazmina, a swimmer, was looking to repeat his performance from the 2017 Games: seven gold medals, and a silver. Now 69 and at the high end of the 65-69 age group, Vazmina, who works as a lawyer, said the heat affected him more than he anticipated and caused him to start slower than he wanted.
He still won four golds — in the 50-yard breaststroke (34.83 seconds), 100-yard breaststroke (1:16.52), 200-yard breaststroke (2:52.13) and 50-yard butterfly (28.59) — and a silver, in the 100-yard individual medley (1:09.43). Vazmina said he was happy with the results but, like most people who compete with the elite, believes he could have done better.
"Competition is a prime driver for me," Vazmina said. "Events like this never get old. You feel that adrenaline rush. It allows me to challenge myself."
Vazmina now holds 20 medals in his National Senior Games career. As he continues to age, he said, he knows things might change. A week before this year’s event began, he pulled ligaments in his right knee and was not sure how it would affect his performance. He had physical therapy on it before he left. He wore compression bands before and after events and stretched it. Vazmina worried about how it would affect him, especially in the breaststroke, where kicking is key. He performed fine, he said, but the future might not be as forgiving. Vazmina also feels injuries from his rugby-playing days in his fingers and other areas.
“You learn to listen to your body,” Vazmina said. “You back off when you feel tweaks.”
His practice schedule now includes more rest. Vazmina swims three days a week for about 90 minutes (around 3,500-4,000 yards). When preparing for a competition, he will increase from three to four. He also cycles when he can, about 35 miles a week. But he has friends in the triathlon community. Some will go to crazy lengths — running before work, biking during lunch and swimming after work, every day — to stay competitive. Vazmina said he would rather spend the majority of his time with his wife, Maricarmen Romero-Vazmina.
Not that he’s completely giving up swimming anytime soon. Vazmina is on the Health and Wellness committee of the Florida Bar. He believes everyone needs something to relieve the pressures of the working world, lawyer or not. Even something as mild as yoga or practicing mindfulness can be beneficial, Vazmina said. For him, it is being in the water, where he will remain “for the foreseeable future.”
“I am happy to be able to compete at this level, at this time,” Vazmina said. “As long as I enjoy it and can share the experience with folks, I will try to continue.”