SAN DIEGO, November 11, 2014 — The recent passing of swimming champion Jaring Timmerman at the age of 105 was an inspiring celebration of a life-well lived.
Immigrating as a child with his family from the Netherlands into Canada, Timmerman settled in Manitoba, living modestly on a struggling family farm.
Years later, upon establishing his own family and when World War II erupted, Timmerman joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, and became a navigator on Lancaster bomber planes.
It is reported that Timmerman flew 31 missions over Germany, returning home at the end of the war with no serious injuries.
Returning to his former life as a husband and father, he resumed working for Grain Insurance, having previously worked as a grain elevator agent. He retired as the president of the company years later.
It was during his retirement and while living with his wife as a “snowbird” spending winters in Arizona that Timmerman entered competitive swimming at the age of 78.
When he won the gold medal for the 200 meter freestyle at the Senior Olympics, Timmerman was 79.
Timmerman’s swimming successes continued for over two decades, and he became an inspiration for others and an international sensation.
At the age of 104 earlier this year, Timmerman was distinguished as the oldest Masters swimmer in the world.
Competing in the Canadian Masters in the 50-meter backstroke and 50-meter freestyle, he easily set a world record in both events in the 105-109 Masters age group category.
“I decided those are probably my last races,” Timmerman said following this year’s Masters race. “But who knows?”
Timmerman died in Winnipeg a few months later on November 5, 2014.
He was 105 years old.
“He (Timmerman) felt he pushed his heart so hard he might have overdid it,” laments Timmerman’s surviving daughter Donna Klassen.
Timmerman was known for his extreme self-discipline, including maintaining a running count of each stroke as he swam, enabling him to establish and attain his award-winning goals.
He is also remembered as being in great physical shape, reportedly swimming twice weekly, and exercising fervently on a stationary bicycle for an hour at a time almost every day.
Serving as a role model for younger swimmers, Timmerman also became an advocate for senior citizens encouraging them to maintain their independence by practicing healthy aging principles.
In fact, he believed that maintaining an active lifestyle was critical for reducing hospital and nursing home stays.
Timmerman was always willing to convey his personal secret for his own longevity, which he fondly named GEDS, an acronym for genes, exercise, diet and spirit.
He was reported to have lived frugally, avoided fatty foods, shunned smoking and was devoutly religious throughout his life.
Seven Life Secrets of Centenarians, written by Lynn Peter Adler, J.D., may hold further explanations for Timmerman’s amazing longevity while also providing helpful tips for others to follow:
-A loving family
Timmerman is sorely missed by his family and throughout the rest of the world. His family may have described him best in The Glove and Mail at the time of his passing, “His legacy will live on, as we remember a true gentleman who showed us all how to live well to the very end.”
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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