At age 70, Robin Kleffman feels young again.
The Faribault swimmer has thrived since bumping up to the ages 70-74 division at national competitions.
In 2017, Kleffman recorded two individual and five relay times that placed top 10 in the world in his division, according to the International Swimming Federation, which ratifies the Masters world records.
Kleffman recorded his division’s sixth-fastest time in the world in both the 50- and 100-meter butterfly events while competing in August at the U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championship at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota. His times were 32.7 and 1:27.4, respectively.
He joked that “it’s fun being the young buck of the age group,” but that his run may be short-lived because “there’s a really good swimmer who’s two years younger than me who’s probably going to break all my records.”
Whether his records stand for a day or a for a millennium, Kleffman’s self-effacing humor isn’t likely to change.
“I’m seeing people still involved in swimming I competed against 30, 40 years ago,” said Kleffman, who swam competitively in high school and into his 30s before taking a break to focus on a bed and breakfast he once owned in Red Wing with his wife.
“We’re a lot older and a little balder and fatter, but we’re still active, and that’s the key,” he said. “It’s good not only for your physical health but your mental health.”
The “really good swimmer” Kleffman mentioned?
That’s friend Marc Anderson, who Kleffman credits with bringing swimmers from across the Twin Cities together under an umbrella to compete together with Minnesota Masters.
Anderson recognized that the current records in the older age divisions, particularly in relays, were attainable for Kleffman and company and implored swimmers in his surrounding circles to go all in.
The camaraderie of being part of a team is what makes three to four one-mile workouts per week, fit in around a full work schedule, worth it for Kleffman.
“For me, the biggest thrill of all of this, even more than setting the individual records, is being part of an athletic team,” Kleffman said.
He takes joy in seeing his female teammates chasing opportunities in the pool once not afforded.
“The really neat deal is a lot of women competing in these age groups they never could compete in high school,” Kleffman said. “Now, they’re having the times of their lives.”
Next up for Kleffman is the 2018 Nationwide USMS Spring National Championship May 10-13 in Indianapolis, Indiana, which Kleffman said is the largest national USMS meet ever held. The meet will feature over 2,300 swimmers from ages 19-24 up to 100 and over.
Kleffman will swim the 50 and 100 butterfly, the 100 and 200 backstroke and the 100 individual medley.