By Roger M., age 70
I am an engineer. I learned to swim in the sandpits of Nebraska by the time I was 10 years old. Then I quit swimming for 50 years. Oh, I could swim long enough to get out of trouble if I fell in the river or the ocean, and I could tread water for 10 minutes to qualify for a scuba diving certificate, but I couldn’t swim well. When I was about 60 years old, I could no longer achieve aerobic conditions by running or racquet ball or other pounding forms of exercise. My back, knees, and ankles were just too worn and painful. So I decided to start swimming at the city pool. Oh yeah, I quickly recalled, I could do freestyle for 50 meters before I was completely out of breath and my heart rate was in a danger zone. With perseverance, I got to 100 meters before being overwhelmed by the same conditions.
Then tragedy struck. My granddaughter fell from a horse and broke her hip at age 13. After several surgeries, she had a total hip replacement at age 15. The family yearned for some exercise that would help her regain her stride, and swimming seemed a logical candidate (her surgeon said she’d best go to college and learn a profession because impact pursuits would no longer be possible). A mutual friend recommended Beth. I called Beth in the middle of her season and told her my granddaughter’s story. Beth immediately volunteered to work her into the class schedule, and a week later her lessons began. We live in Golden so I drove my granddaughter to the lessons in Boulder each week and hung out by the pool to watch Beth work her magic. After watching my granddaughter become a better swimmer in a year than I had in 67 years, I asked Beth if she took older adults into her classes. She smiled and asked when do you want to start?
It is now four years later and Beth has me swimming 1000 meters three times a week, using a variety of strokes and exercises. I no longer poop out at 100 meters. I can now count on injury-free aerobic exercise for essentially as long as I live. I am slowing down a trifle, and it appears to be a monotonic phenomenon, but I enjoy my time in the pool or the lake or the ocean and I am practically injury free.
In a typical lesson (I share a spot with my daughter-in-law so we alternate weeks with Beth), I swim a few lengths, then Beth decides what we will work on. She usually prescribes an exercise to correct this or that in my stroke, and then we end the lesson with a couple laps to see what changed. We periodically commiserate on how I should structure my time in the pool to get the exercise I seek and to continue to improve my strokes. In my semi-retirement, swimming alone or under Beth’s watchful eyes is one of the most fun things I do.
Dear Roger: You are someone who inspires me on a regular basis! Your curiosity and eagerness to learn is astounding. Your willingness to be taught new tricks is one of the reasons you appear to have the verve of a young man. ~Beth