WTOC Senior Active: Nana Whalen - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

WTOC Senior Active: Nana Whalen

BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) -

You could say Nana Whalen got into the pool cold 17 years ago. But she has clearly heated up since.

"I had lessons when I was 7," she said. "It was the greatest gift my mom ever gave me."

But Whalen didn't really start swimming until she moved to Sun City in 1997, nearly six decades after her introduction to the water.

Two months later, she was swimming in the Beaufort County Senior Games.

"I got four gold medals that day," said Whalen. "And I ever knew that I liked to compete, never knew that I could and I never had."

She has been out in front of the competition ever since, qualifying for the last eight biennial National Senior Games and winning more medals than she can count.

"You know, I don't have any idea how many I have," said Whalen. "I have boxes and boxes and boxes of them. I have national medals in the backstroke, the butterfly freestyle."

She has also been inducted into the South Carolina Senior Classic Hall of Fame and carried the torch in the opening ceremonies for the National Senior Games.

"That's something you never, ever forget. The person who handed it to me was a San Francisco 49er," said Whalen. "My personal goal is to be competing in my 90s, that's my big goal. And to be able to do that, I have to eat right, I have to swim all the time, I have to keep competing."

Whalen teaches several water therapy classes to seniors and people with disabilities, and she has started a Sun City swim team that will go to its first meet this month.

And she's always making up for lost time in the pool.

"The good thing is, I'm not tired of it," Whalen said of swimming. "I never will be because I'm such a believer and I enjoy it. Eating and exercise, those are the two secrets to a long and happy life."

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