Would it surprise you to learn that one of Tapestry at Village Gate West’s residents swims 6,000 metres a week? And what about if that resident was 98-years-old? Well, it’s true! Canada’s oldest competitive swimmer, Kalis Rasmussen, recently moved into Village Gate West, an exceptional seniors community in Etobicoke, Ontario.
It’s no wonder Village Gate West was the perfect retirement community for Kalis, given Tapestry’s focus on active aging and offering a wellness-inspired environment. At Tapestry, we believe in supporting individuals to remain independent as long as possible so they can continue to pursue their purpose and passions – at every age.
Originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, Kalis began swimming at the age of eight but her passion was interrupted due to the Second World War. She moved to Canada in 1951 where she worked for Chrysler Canada sewing leather seats for vehicles and, with her husband (now deceased), raised her family of twin sons and a daughter.
Kalis retired at 60 and began swimming competitively again at the age of 76. Her swimming achievements since then have included setting Canadian and world records in the 85-89 and 90-94 age groups, including five world records in 2020 at the age of 95.
In 2020, Kalis was also the first ever recipient of the female Masters Swimming Excellence Award (now an annual award) from Swimming Canada. The award is presented to swimmers who have demonstrated consistent and outstanding results at the highest levels of competition in masters swimming.
When asked why she enjoys swimming so much, Kalis says she can’t really articulate it. “I was very young when I started, and I’ve never known anything else,” she says. Amazingly, Kalis was never formally trained as a swimmer – she learned from her father. “Once I joined the swim club in Copenhagen, from then on I was competing,” she adds.
Committed to staying active, Kalis typically swims four times a week at the Etobicoke Olympium recreation centre. She also takes advantage of the Tapestry shuttle bus to visit a local shopping centre where she walks and shops.
For Kalis and her family, the move to Village Gate West has delivered the best combination of continued independence and support. “The people here are the nicest you can imagine,” Kalis says. “They are there if I need anything, but I am still managing on my own. I couldn’t have chosen a better place.”
Kalis has joined a community with a committed group of “adventure seekers”. In 2021, a group of seniors from Village Gate West walked the CN Tower EdgeWalk and in 2022 another group zip-lined in Niagara Falls, proving that age is not a barrier or limitation to seeking new adventures or crossing long-held dreams off your bucket list.
Village Gate West’s focus and commitment to wellness has been honoured with the Beacon Award for three consecutive years. The Beacon Award, sponsored by the International Council on Active Aging and NuStep, recognizes the top 25 Best in Wellness communities in North America.
While Kalis’ achievements are quite legendary, you don’t need to be an elite swimmer to find wellness opportunities at Tapestry. Our team of wellness professionals can help you start your own personalized journey to improve your physical and mental wellness.
Our residents span all abilities, but they have the shared desire to live in a vibrant, engaged and socially-connected community where they can spend their time doing things they love! If you are considering making the move to independent seniors living, please contact us. We would be pleased to host you for a complimentary lunch and a private tour, and introduce you to the community’s amazing Tapestry employees who work together to deliver an unparalleled experience for our residents every day.