Gail Roper, a 1952 Olympian and Masters pioneer, looks at her swimming as an art. “When I’m in a race, I’m trying to paint the perfect picture, with the perfect start, the perfect turn and the perfect everything-in-between.
Gail Roper (born in 1929) had just returned home from the USMS Short Course Nationals in Tempe, Ariz. Over a long, hot weekend probably more conducive to inner tube lounging than day-in and day-out of all-out swimming, the 87-year-old legend swam in four different events. To the surprise of no one, she touched the wall first in each.
This, in and of itself, is probably the greatest barometer of Roper’s dominance. Whenever she’s in the competition pool, it’s rarely a question of if she will win. Instead, the focus shifts to her margin of victory and whether or not she will approach any national or world standards.
On this occasion, there were no new records. She did, however, once again prove herself to be the class of her age group. In the 400 yard IM, she outdistanced her nearest competitor by over 36 seconds. In the 100 fly and 100 IM, it was by 11 and 7 seconds, respectively. And in the most miniature of all events, the 50 freestyle, she beat the runner-up by an astonishing 5.55 seconds.