Olympian endeavours of my team of wrinklies

'The Over 60s club at my local sports centre has decided to take up synchronised swimming'

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Fired by the dazzling spectacle of the Russian women's synchronised swimming team splashing their way to a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, the Over 60s club at my local pool and sports centre has decided to take up this invigorating activity. I am not over 60 but happened to be changing in the cubicle next to Muriel, who is, when she put forward the idea to a friend in the shower. I didn't recognise the friend's voice. It could have been Rita, who once massaged the stars, including the cast of
Emmerdale Farm, but then again it might have been Pam, who used to be big in biscuits and crispbreads.

Fired by the dazzling spectacle of the Russian women's synchronised swimming team splashing their way to a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, the Over 60s club at my local pool and sports centre has decided to take up this invigorating activity. I am not over 60 but happened to be changing in the cubicle next to Muriel, who is, when she put forward the idea to a friend in the shower. I didn't recognise the friend's voice. It could have been Rita, who once massaged the stars, including the cast of Emmerdale Farm, but then again it might have been Pam, who used to be big in biscuits and crispbreads.

Muriel is the moving spirit of the Over 60s, their self-appointed events organiser, leaflet distributor, canapés secretary and three times Ladies badminton champion.

The Over 60s tend to congregate around nine o'clock, when the last of the yuppies have finally left, having swam their 40 lengths, showered, crimped, tweaked, put on their power suits and rescheduled half a dozen meetings on their mobiles. I arrive around 8.45 and am generally on my penultimate length when Muriel and the other wrinklies hit the water. "Hit" is not perhaps the right word. They lower themselves slowly, creakily down the steps into the shallow end, where they remain for some time, chatting, adjusting the straps of their lilac-and-primrose bobble caps, all the while casting sidelong glances at the door leading from the men's changing-room. And no wonder.

Romance blossomed right here in the shallow end last year between Rosemary, twice widowed - both her husbands were vicars - and Len, a retired printer. I've seen only Len's top half, he's a wispy little man with salt-and-pepper sideburns, but someone told me he has three church bells tattooed on his left shin. "Was it this ecumenical allusion that first attracted him to Rosemary?" I wondered. "I don't know," said my informant, "but the reason he did it was so that when someone in the pub tells a tall story, Len can thrust forth his left leg, hitch up his trousers and say: 'Pull the other one, mate. It's got bells on.' "

I'm not entirely sure that Rosemary's late husband Charles would have approved of or even understood the joke. "Charles was terribly serious," Rosemary told me the morning she lost her purse and I lent her 70p for the bus. This was before she met Len. Charles, she said, gave himself 100 per cent to his work. He couldn't delegate. He had insisted on accompanying the St Mary's choirboys on their annual bicycle ride and picnic, even though Mr Pickles the verger, a younger, fitter man, could easily have done it. Half-way up Marley Ridge, it was very hot and they were all singing "Glory, Glory Parachuter", he had a heart attack, fell off his bike and was pronounced dead soon after.

"That was Charles all over," said Rosemary. "He drove himself." If only he had.

If the Over 60s synchronised swimming team is to take part in serious competitions, such as the Olympics, it will need a coach. That's where I come in. They must have someone ruthless. Muriel's far too soft-hearted. I know for a start she will let Pam and Rita in, even though Pam can swim only if she's holding on to a float, kicking her legs, and if Rita gets water up her nose, she has a migraine. Rosemary is a good swimmer but she'd never do it without Len, and when they do that complicated business when they all kick their legs up out of the water like chorus girls, Len's church bells might look a bit odd.

The answer might be for them all to have the same tattoos; then they could call themselves the Over 60s Belles.

As anchorman I'd have Reg, Len's mate, who's no beauty (he's bald, white and wobbly) but he's strong. You know that routine when they all dive underwater and someone gets fired into the air like a rocket. Reg is the perfect rocket-launcher. There's an idea, I'll make it up to Muriel for stealing her thunder. "Muriel, you can be our rocket," I'll say.

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