Back in the Swim

Learning to swim: When injuries made exercise painful, this over-40 woman took the plunge — and unleashed her inner athlete.

By Jeanne Safer
Jeanne Safer

Since what swim teachers tactfully call my buoyancy (meaning that my generous derriere sticks out of the water when I do the dolphin kick) limits the efficiency of my butterfly, I’ve started working on a hybrid stroke called the butterfrog (butterfly arms with a frog kick), which is less euphonious and streamlined but more suited to a midlife body. It’s legal for racing at adult and masters levels, and I may decide to try the kick. I like having an alternative, but I haven’t given up on turning my legs into the fishtail that I love so much.

The feeling I get from swimming is different from any other physical activity. This is the first time I’ve experienced the intense power of a real athlete. I never thought that I would. At no time in life could it be more welcome. For my 60th birthday this month, I’m going to get an Endless Pool of my very own.

If You Want to Get Totally Immersed…

Total Immersion Swimming is ideally suited to midlife bodies — beginners and more advanced swimmers alike. For more information, call 800-609-7946 or visit Total Immersion’s Web site. Private or semiprivate instruction with TI-trained coaches (see the Web site for listings) is available in many cities and countries; hourly rates typically range from $50 to $100.

Originally published in MORE magazine, June 2007.

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