'`JUST hang on a moment," shouts Tubby Ramsay into his mobile phone.
"I'm in the bottom of a boat and the reception is not great."
Once the 75-year-old emerges on deck, he explains that he's restoring a 75-year-old house boat on the Murray River, near his Red Cliffs home.
"I was born in 1934, the same year as the boat," he says.
Tubby is also a professional diver, who does government work on the weirs and locks of the river.
In his spare time he rows and takes part in dragon boat races on the waterway.
But swimming is his true passion.
"I love the water. I'm either in it, under it or on it," he says.
This month, Tubby will take part in the 2009 World Masters Games in Sydney, competing in the 75-79 age bracket in events including the 200m butterfly and 400m individual relay.
The seventh games, which are on until Sunday, will see 25,000 competitors from more than 100 countries take part in 28 sports.
The games, held every four years since 1985, are open to everyone, not just elite athletes.
Tubby is in the older bracket, although he knows a 99-year-old Mildura woman, who also swims, who is taking part in this year's games.
One of about 30 members of the Mildura Masters Swimming Club, Tubby has travelled around the globe with the competition - including Canada and New Zealand - and has been competing in the games since the mid-'90s.
This is when he first resurrected his boyhood love of swimming.
Now, he says, his walls are heavy with medals.
"But I swim for enjoyment, not for glory," he says.
"It's not about competition, just about fun and fitness. It gives me an incentive to be fit, to get off my bum and kick the cobwebs off. It stops the mould growing on me."
The septuagenarian was born and bred in Red Cliffs, worked as a grape grower most of his life and says swimming has broadened his social network.
"I've met a lot of old friends who I knew years ago as a kid in the swim club."
In fact Tubby was instrumental in establishing Mildura's World Masters Games nearly a decade ago, which are held every two years and took place in August this year with 750 Australian competitors.
"I'm not as involved now as I was when it started, council has taken over now," he says.
"But I just believed Mildura has great sporting facilities and the people deserved to have an event like this."
Tubby, whose real name is Leon, earned his tag because of his lifelong "battle of the bulge", which is difficult to believe considering he is so active.
He swims three days a week for about half an hour, or 1km - in summer he dives into the Murray River and in winter, Mildura's aquatic centre.
"No, I've never thought of moving to the ocean.
"There's plenty of water here. This is the best place in the world."