Area seniors bring home bronze

Published 6:01 pm Monday, September 30, 2013

Two Tryon area residents, Pat Dockendorf and Dennis McClure, returned from the National Senior Games with big bronze medals to show for their hard work.

“Step up! Take your mark! And you are in the water swimming as fast as you can,” said Dockendorf, who received her national bronze medal in the 200 breaststroke. “If you beat your seed time, you have run a good race, regardless of the outcome. If you get a medal, it’s a bonus.”

Dockendorf’s time was 7:34:89, and she also placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke, with a time of 3.17:49. She has participated in the Nationals seven times.

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Dockendorf trains hard. She swims at the Masters Program at the Hendersonville YMCA with a coach, and meets with a trainer at Pro Physical Fitness in Columbus.

“You know there are swimmers in your age group who are faster than you are, and yet you try your hardest,” she said.

While Dockendorf kept track of her events, her heats, her lanes and getting to the starting blocks on time, McClure kept track of his team’s performance and pacing. He pitches for the Hendersonville Senior Softball League team for ages 70 and older.

“Pitching, you’re right in the middle of it, all the game,” McClure said.

He trains regularly, going to Hendersonville with his pal Danny Edwards on Tuesdays and Fridays. Edwards and McClure have played on the same team in the past, but this year they played in separate age groups for the first time. The Hendersonville Senior Softball League accepts new players from age 53 up, and many of the players have been active in baseball and softball all their lives.

“I’ve played for several years,” McClure said.

“Even before I went into the Army, and then when I came back, too.”

The softball team pulls from several counties including Buncombe, Transylvania, Polk and Henderson. McClure’s team went from winning bronze at the Nationals in Cleveland to winning gold at the North Carolina State Finals in Raleigh, too.

The National Senior games include athletes from all over the United States and Canada. The games, publicized as the largest multi-sport event in the world specifically for seniors, features 20 sports for people age 50 and older. This year, the games occurred in Cleveland, Ohio, the birthplace of rock and roll.

“I love to go away, but I love to come back home,” McClure said.