Sunday, August 24, 2008

Older, Tougher, Smarter

That was the headline on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle Friday, August 22, 2008. We encourage everyone to read Julian Guthrie's article. Guthrie points to the many achievements of some of the older Olympians in Beijing. Dara Torres is our sports poster woman this year for this subject. The article explains that many of our swimmers are older. Why do you think that is so?

One major factor is the money involved. It is entirely possible for a swimmer who has international experience to earn $50,000 or more in cash and sponsorships which allow him/her to continue training past college. Michael Phelps is in a different league as is probably Torres and Natalie Coughlin. We have no direct knowledge of any of their individual sponsorship deals. However, when the new LZR Speedo suit costs about $500 retail and you figure how many thousands of young swimmers are already using it you can do the math and see how it is possible for the top end swimmers to make serious money. But even the second tier swimmers, ones with Olympic exposure who do not have a medal can cash in. We think it is a good thing that swimmers can pursue their dreams while in their mid to late twenties, and into their 30's and beyond. Jason Lezak anchored the Gold Medal Men's 400 Free Relay. He is 32! The point here is that very few athletes are at their peak right out of college at 22 years of age. Michael Jordan certainly wasn't; nor was Tiger Woods.

What is of equal interest to us is that the Chronicle article discusses the additional benefits of staying physically active. Simon Melov of the Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato, CA says, "Exercise doesn't just make the muscles stronger, it makes them younger." Fascinating, encouraging and inspiring all at the same time!

Dr. Karen Francis, a behavioral neuroscientist at USF and author of "Physical Dimensions of Aging", talks about the need to challenge both our mind and body daily. Several tips are offered in the same article.

We could take this into the pool so very easily. Try breathing on the left for a lap and the right on the next lap. When you do a flip turn keep looking at the same side of the pool at each end as you push off. This will necessitate you turning both ways. Park a little farther from the pool so that you get a few extra minutes walk before your swim. The list is endless.

The overall point for us in this process is that the Beijing Olympics did a lot more than excite us. They have already improved our coaching through the sheer power of inspiration. How about you? Let us know what you learned so that we can share your knowledge with the world. We all benefit!

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