There are no two people who better embody the mantra “live your life and forget your age” better than Robyn and Bill Winter.
These two prove you’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. Learning to ski in your 50s? Sure! Compete for Australia in the ITU World Triathlon as a retiree? No worries! For the pair, swimming set the framework for a positive and motivated mindset – one that carried their clan through the ages.
“We’ve always advocated sport,” said a very healthy Robyn. “The kids started school in Katherine, but there wasn’t a pool there at the time, so we used to swim in the river. We wanted a sport we could all do, and that was swimming. The poor children had no choice!”
Bill travelled with the CSIRO for work as a Researcher – that’s when he first found the UQ Sport Aquatic Centre.
Starting a family in the Northern Territory in the 70s, Robyn and Bill were quick to find the family’s local watering hole.
Without realising, the Aquatic Centre became a pillar of the Winter’s lives.
“We started swimming here, then our kids, and now our grandkids swim here. They learned to swim in that little pool,” remembers Robyn, pointing out the toasty 33-degree Program Pool perfect for toddlers first diving in.
As life shifted away from parenthood when their sons had kids of their own, time in the pool took on a new role too. It became a source of exercise that didn’t put stress on their aging bodies.
“Things happen to you when you get older. We’re not meant to live this long,” jokes Bill. “Robyn with her knees got a bit manic after she had her keyhole surgery. She wasn’t able to run like she loved doing, so the water was fantastic not only for rehab but to get her moving again.”
Most mornings, while Bill trains for his triathlons, Robyn counts out a diligent two kilometres in the pool. A maths teacher through and through, she finds a way to keep track of the 80-odd laps in the 25-metre.
“You’ve got to divide it into things like 10s, or I do four laps of kicking, backstroke kicking, freestyle, backstroke, and if you do that five times, it works out to 80.”
Bill on the other hand, does everything by the clock.
“I have to beat my last time, whatever it was,” Bill claims! “It’s funny looking back and talking about it now, the role swimming played in our family. An amenity like this at UQ with the people and the physical environment, it’s incredible.”
Robyn casts her eyes around the Aquatic Centre, years of memories swelling beneath the surface.
“Our whole family has been involved in this pool in different stages. We’ve grown alongside it.”
A lifetime in the pool has proved swimming is more than a sport for the Winters. It’s a means of uniting a family, a framework for discipline, and connecting with a community built on a culture of fun, perseverance and comradery.