After a 55-year hiatus, Joel Lockwood is back in the pool – and setting records.

Just like he did back in his youth.

Joel Lockwood, 1952

“I found out new things about swimming: There’s starting blocks, and we have to wear goggles. We never had that in the 1950s,” said Lockwood, 84, of Lake City, who attended HFC in 1953, completing some coursework in general studies.

In August, Lockwood traveled to Oakland University, where the Michigan Senior Olympian qualified for the National Senior Games, which will be held in Albuquerque in June 2019. He competed in four events: the 50-yard backstroke with a time of 45 seconds; the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:57; the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 8:44; and the 100 individual medley, where he swam the butterfly, the backstroke, the breaststroke, and freestyle with a time of 1:57.

When he attends the National Senior Games in 2019, he’ll be 85, competing in the 85-89 age bracket.

Joel Lockwood, today

A swimmer from the start

Growing up in Dearborn in the 1940s, Lockwood attended summer camp at the Saginaw YMCA for three years.

“I learned how to swim there,” he said. “I still have my 1944 certificate, where I was called one of the best swimmers in the camp.”

At Dearborn High School, he was on the swim team all four years. During the 1951-52 season, the swim team won the state championship. After graduating in 1952, Lockwood attended HFC, earning All-American Junior College honors in the 220 yard and 440 yard freestyle events.

Interestingly enough, there wasn’t a pool at either DHS or HFC. Lockwood recalled using the pool at Henry Ford Middle School when he swam for both schools.

Lockwood continued his swimming career in the U.S. Army in 1957, when he was stationed at Fort Carson, CO. He set new records in the 1500-meter and 400-meter events at the Fifth Army Swimming Championships.

“Once they found out that I could swim during basic training, I never left Fort Carson,” he said.

After serving for four years, Lockwood attended Wayne State University. For the next several decades, he concentrated on his engineering career and raising his family rather than swimming.

Back in the pool

It wasn’t until 2012, at age 78, that Lockwood returned to competitive swimming. His neighbor told him about the U.S. Masters Swim Program, a nationwide competition for all athletes. During the next several years, Lockwood established several state, national, and world records for his age bracket. He won a silver medal in the 100-meter freestyle event at the 2014 World Masters Swimming Championship in Montreal.

In 2016, at the 64th Annual Sports Awards Ceremony in Dearborn, Lockwood was rewarded a Sports Legend Award and was inducted into the Dearborn Sports Hall of Fame.

Since returning to swimming, he’s set 28 records and won more than 85 medals in his age bracket. Admittedly, he gets a kick out of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren attending his swim meets, holding up signs that read “Go Grandpa!”

As of now, he has no plans to quit.

“As long as my body stays healthy and it remains fun, I’ll continue swimming. I’ll continue on until my body falls apart,” he said. “Competing gives you a goal to work toward. The National Senior Games will be my goal for next year.”