I read this the other day in the New York Times…”Swimming with the Sharks, for 103 miles.” The article tells the story of Diana Nyad, who is attempting to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Key West…without getting out of the water…60 hours of straight swimming. I cannot even begin to get my head around that. The fact that she is swimming without a shark cage, in waters frequented by sharks, well that makes it all the more freakin’ amazing, and the fact that she is expected to hallucinate and be stung by jellyfish…shall I go on? As amazing as all of this is, I think just as amazing is the fact that Diana Nyad is 61 years old. Damn. And I was trying to do 5 unassisted chin-ups by my 50th birthday (I may or may not make it…I can do four, but my birthday is in 10 days…). What am I going to do when I turn 60?! I find it interesting that Ms. Nyad attempted this same swim when she was 28 and failed, due to bad weather which forced her severely off course. Ms. Nyad says that while she was faster in her 20’s, physically she is stronger than when she was 28. She must lift!
On Saturday I got an invitation to an open house for a “senior community.” The invitation promised “raspberry treats and other refreshments” (why specifically “raspberry” treats?) and showed pictures of smiling “seniors” chatting and drinking coffee…all had white or gray hair. Seriously? I’m going to be 50 not 90! While I admit there might come a day where a senior community would be appealing, I see that as a long, long way down the road. I think that how we view 40, 50, 60, etc today is a lot different from 50 years ago. People are achieving great things at these ages, athletic and otherwise. I was at a triathlon on Sunday where the amazing Dick Hoyt completed the sprint triathlon at the age of 71…pulling and pushing his handicapped son (for those of you who are not familiar with the inspiring story of Team Hoyt, see here). The triathlon has a very challenging hill on the bike course which some of the less fit participants walk their bikes up…and Dick Hoyt rides with his son on the front of his bike…at the age of 71.
And on the “young” side, let’s not forget Dara Torres, who at the age of 41 was the oldest person to ever earn a spot on the Olympic swim team. 2008 was her 5th consecutive Olympics, and she earned 3 silver medals. In 2007, at the age of 40 she broke her own American record in the 50 meter freestyle that she had set 26 years earlier…and she looks freakin’ amazing to boot!
Count your blessings. What you can do, what you can achieve, is not limited by your age. Go out there and do something amazing!