Today I pulled out an old issue of USMS Swimmer magazine, issue September-October 2006, which featured the XI Fina World Masters Championships held this year at Stanford University back in early August.
Here are some of the folks who competed and how fast they swam:
Laura Val, 55, 50 Free 29.59, 100 Free 1:02.63
Richard Abrahams, 61, 50 Free 25.23
Christel Schulz, 66, 50 Free 32.73, 100 Free 1:14.76
Graham Johnston, 75, 100 Free 1:10.92, 200 Free 2:36.30
Oldest swimmers to compete:
Eugene Lehman, 93
Ellen Tait, 96
Things to consider. My fastest 50 is probably around 52 seconds and I can't keep that up past 50 meters. My fastest 100 is probably around 1:48 or so and that's also going all out. And you look at that partial list of folks who competed and note that they are DECADES older than you and are still swimming faster than you, sometimes twice as fast...!
Growing old and weak? Not on your life. They keep training and training and reaping the benefits of strength maintenance and health. They have mitigated the slow physical decline of aging and blast the traditional notion that when you grow old, your body will waste away. And to compete when they are 90+ years of age: WOW.
These folks are my heroes, the ones I aspire to be like. For when I grow to be as old as they are, I plan on being as energetic as they are, enough to keep racing Ironman for many decades to come. They are truly an inspiration!