Richard Knight is a real champion! Last July, at age 79, he won 6 gold medals in the Senior Olympics swimming events in Tacoma, WA. and he broke five records. That in itself is quite a feat, let alone doing it at 79. For a gold medalist, Richard is a pretty humble guy. I had the honor of making his portrait a few days after his incredible performance in the pool.
Senior Olympian Richard Knight won six gold medals and set five records in swimming at age 79.
Richard turned 80 on April 6th. He’s now training for this year’s upcoming Senior Olympics. I hope I’ll get to see him swim. He’s the kind of guy who inspires us all to strive to do our record-setting best.
I like learning what my senior portrait clients are doing at school and in their lives afterwards. It’s what makes my work as a photographer even more fun. Take Andy Small for instance.
Andy had just come from a day’s work lifeguarding at Bayside Pool in Bellingham when he met me last summer for his senior portrait session. We had talked earlier about what he might like to do during his session and, particularly, where he wanted to go.
Given that he was on Sehome High School’s swim team and also working as a lifeguard, it seemed only natural that a waterside location might appeal to him. And it did. He also liked the idea of finding a place that was quintessential ‘Bellingham.’ I suggested a spot down in Marine Park in Fairhaven and he liked it.
We did what I call a few ‘warm up’ shots on the shore to start with before moving closer to the water. The evening couldn’t have been more ideal. He ended up with many great images which we put into a beautiful, customized ‘memory book’ for him. One was chosen for a wall-size canvas print for his family’s home which his mother, Elaine, says changes its look with the light in the home.
As we worked,Andy and I became better acquainted. I learned that he was looking forward to his last swim season in the winter with the Sehome team. Being a swimmer myself, we had a lot to talk about.
This last Saturday, Andy’s high school swimming career came to a close as the Sehome Mariner’s competed in Federal Way for the state Class 2A title. Sehome’s team has long dominated the sport in its class. For the past four years, it brought home the first place trophy. But this year the title was taken from them, but just by a mere 30 points, to Seattle’s Archbishop Murphy’s squad.
Andy, however, secured a first place spot of his own with his Sehome teammates Patrick Gregory, Isaiah Grambo and Isaac Day in the 200 medley relay. He also clocked in faster on the final day of the meet in the 100 backstroke to take fourth place at 56.77 seconds. There’s a great shot of his launch in the race \on the Bellingham Herald’s website. (I’d share it with you here but, for copyright reasons, I can’t.) And he, along with teammates Grambo, Larson, and Curran Wilbour came in fourth in the 400 meter freestyle relay. Altogether the Sehome swimmers garnered 237 total points, just 30 short of Archbishop Murphy and well ahead of most of the other teams.
So while the team didn’t bring home the title this year, they didn’t fall far. And for Andy, it was a good finish to a senior year. At the team’s banquet this week, he received the coveted Coaches Award. Congratulations, Andy!
Here’s the link to the Herald’s article and photos: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/02/17/2883420/sehome-swims-to-second-place-at.html#storylink=cpy
HEADS UP: If you a current or past senior portrait client of mine, let me know what you’re doing. Not only would I love to hear but I’d like to share it with everyone on my blog!
While Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps were racing for medals in London on the U.S. Olympic team, swimmer Richard Knight was winning them in Olympia. Six to be exact. All gold. And breaking five records. If that wasn’t impressive enough, even more impressive is the fact that Knight, who was competing in the Senior Olympics in Washington, is 79.
Knight was himself an Olympic contender back in 1956 when he swam in the Olympic trials. As a member of the UCLA swim team, he competed as a breaststroker for two years. But during the trials, a swimmer from USC, Olympic great Bobby Hughes, edged him out of a spot on the team. He left California in 1973 and moved to live on a ranch in Montana where he and his wife, Shelley, raised a family. He went to work as high school counselor and set swimming aside.
But few years ago, a fellow teacher told him about the Senior Olympics. “I hadn’t ever heard about it,” he says. After 36 years, he jumped back into the pool and started to train. Seriously. He found “it wasn’t as easy as it used to be.” But he began entering competitions again and winning them. Every event.
To date, he’s won about 60 medals, including three bronze at the National Senior Games in Palo Alto and silver at the World Senior Games in Park City, Utah a couple years ago. His made so many waves on the scoreboard that it prompted one competitor at the National Games–where 10,000 participated– to ask him: “Where did you come from?”
His performance in last Sunday’s Senior Olympics was among his best. He trimmed an astonishing 21 seconds off the record in his age division–75 to 79 years– to win the 100 yard breaststroke. Another record fell when he cut 7 seconds off the 50 yard breast stroke. In the 25 yard backstroke, he shaved off another 2 seconds to win that event. And in the 25 yard breast stroke, he swam 20.77 seconds, to pick up yet another gold medal and record. He won a fifth gold in the 25 yard freestyle busting that record too. Trim and fit with a twinkle in his eye and a warm smile, he’s pretty modest about his incredible accomplishments. Unlike some of this year’s Olympians who will retire after this year’s London games, Richard shows no intention of stopping just yet. He’s looking forward to improving his breaststroke, to entering another competition, winning more medals and maybe busting a few more records.