SaltWire E-Edition


She's 81 and swims for Fitness, Friendship, and Fun

By Ameeta Vohra

Mary Murray is still swimming and showing no signs of slowing down. Once again, the 81-year-old from Dartmouth will compete at the Nova Scotia 55+ Games in Pictou County later this month. “The Games represent fun and fitness and are like a comradeship. These people will be your friends for life,” Murray says. “It is competitive, but it’s fun to try and win. Even if you don’t win, it’s still fun and a win-win situation.” Murray is going into these Games on the heels of a successful medal haul at the Canada 55+ Senior Games last year in Kamloops, B.C. She won four medals, including gold in the 50-metre freestyle event, gold in the 100-metre individual medley, silver in the 50-metre backstroke, and silver in the 50-metre breaststroke. She was one of only two athletes, and the only female, representing Nova Scotia in the Games. While she has enjoyed swimming all her life, Murray only began to do it competitively when the opportunity came up at the Nova Scotia 55+ Games. “I really enjoy it, not so much for the medals, but you meet so many really nice people and it’s just good exercise,” she says. Swimming is not the only sport Murray has participated in over the years. She began her Games journey in bowling while trying swimming. Once she tried competing in swimming, she was hooked and never looked back. “I never trained or anything,” she says. “I just jumped in the pool and I felt good and it was just fun to me. Then I just kept going in swimming, because that’s what I found I enjoyed more.” At this year’s Games, Murray will compete in four swimming events. She is also entered with her husband Stan, whom she married on May 27, in the washer toss event. The couple placed second in a washer toss tournament earlier this summer at the Centennial Legion in Dartmouth and will compete in another event this fall. “It’s something we didn’t try yet,” she says. “We bought some and we do it out in the backyard just for the fun of it. That was the main fun in the summer, going into that.” Mary also tried to get Stan to participate in swimming, but there wasn’t enough time to build the necessary lung capacity.

What makes Murray even more remarkable is her desire to give back to the community. When she collected her medal haul at the Canada 55+ Games, she couldn’t help but think about the children who were mistreated at residential schools. Wanting to leave a legacy and memory behind, she gave one of her gold medals to Tke̓ mlúps te Secwépemc, the former residential school in that area. “I wanted to leave a medal in memory of all those kids that died,” she says. “I just thought I couldn’t leave there without remembering them.” As she prepares for the Games, Murray believes there are many benefits for participants. “I truly believe as we get older, we got to keep moving,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you can walk, you go in there. If you walk with a walker, you can still go in. They have bridge, cribbage, and Scrabble. There are so many things people can do sitting on a chair too.” For those who have been considering participating in the Nova Scotia 55+ Games, Murray has this advice: “Do it, try it. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it. I can almost guarantee that you will enjoy it and do well. You will have fun and meet some marvellous people.” The Games begin Sept.20. For more information, visit: https://

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