Some people may refer to him as the “Candy Man” but Rob King is also known for being a great swimmer who competes each year in the B.C. Senior Games.
King was born and raised in Calgary. He first gained a love for exercise and the outdoors after his father enrolled him in the Boy Scouts.
As a young man he was called up to serve in the Air Force and it was after the war that he met and married Dorene Hunt. Together they had three sons and a daughter. Their little girl died shortly after being born, because of deformities caused by the drug, Thalidomide.
Shortly after her death, the Kings adopted a baby girl.
As well as working full-time, King attended night school and became a Registered Industrial Accountant. He had moved 13 times and worked at 11 different places by the time he moved his family to the Okanagan in 1964. He then landed a government job with the income tax department, where he worked for the next 23 years, retiring in 1988.
King has always been a very active man, physically and mentally. He recently turned 92.
“I enjoy keeping active,” he said. “I was doing back hand springs until about five years ago and then my wrist got kind of sore, so I thought I had better slow down a bit.”
After retiring, King regularly went to the Aquatic Centre to exercise at the gym and to swim in the pool. It was then that a life guard named Eddy talked him into swimming in the Senior Games.
“To my great surprise, I came away with some medals and I was hooked,” said King.
That was 27 years ago and he has been competing and winning medals every year since then, except for one.
“It’s good. It gives you impetus to keep practising and to try and keep in shape,” said King. “Once you leave those things, whether it is swimming, running or walking, sometimes you never get back into it.”
King competes in the 90 year and over category for the 100 metre swim, where he does the butterfly stroke for 25 metres, the back stroke for the next 25, the breast stroke for 25 and then the free style for the final 25 metres.
“The older I get the less competition I am running into,” explained King. “There was maybe only three or four of us last year.”
Two things keep King motivated to continue competing. One is the fun of it. He enjoys the social aspect and visiting different places throughout the province. The other is having a goal to work towards, so he heads down to the pool at 6 a.m., three times a week to train.
After 65 ½ years of marriage, King’s wife passed away in 2012.
Three years later he met Albertine Meyer. They have many things in common, including a love for swimming.
Meyer thinks King is a Summerland icon, because so many people recognize him.
They recognize him for more than his swimming medals though.
“Rob likes to see smiles on people so he gives out Mentos,” explained Meyer. “He throws out candy at the Action Festival Parade and every time someone does a service, like opening the door, out comes the Mentos. If they do something really special, he’ll give a Cadbury chocolate bar. So he’s well known as the Candy Man in Summerland.”
It is possible that King also gives out candy because of something else too.
“I think that this is the best community on the entire face of the earth,” said King. “The people in Summerland are wonderful.”
The B.C. Senior 55+ Games are being held in Coquitlam on Sept 20 to 24 and King plans on competing there.
Leading up to those games he will be busy training at the pool, bouncing on the trampoline in his back yard and of course handing out candies.
(The writer would like to thank King for the Mentos and the Cadbury bar.)