Her Middle-Aged, But Not-Too-Bad-a-Body

When the YWCA lap-lanes are closed for the holidays, Sugar and 1 use the YMCA swim pool. Last week I was anxious to see if an old timer that we knew was still swimming laps at the YMCA. When I say old, I mean a really truly ancient relic. 

He is 96-year-old Clarence Erickson, who can jump off the diving board without cracking any of his well preserved bones. Of course, he is no tornado in the water, but he has a lovely style of propelling his arms and wiggling his legs. The lifeguard said we missed Clarence’s lap swimming schedule by one day. 

All this reminds me of last year during Christmas time when Sugar and I found the pool empty, and the water temperature down to a very uncomfortable cold level, due to holiday neglect. Sugar made a funny face as she lowered her middle-aged, but not-too-bad-a-body into the chilly water. We no more than got ourselves warmed up by swimming a few fast laps, when Clarence, the old pool mascot came out from the dressing room in his oversized swim trunks. 

He jumped in head first, before we had a chance to warn him that the water was more suited for polar bears. He didn’t come up for a while, causing me to think his aging heart may not be able to push his chilled, worn-out blood through his corroded veins. 

I swam over to this old health freak, placed my lips in his ear, (he has ear drum problems) and hollered if he was OK. He said, “Yah, but I’ll have to leave for a spell and get warmed up.” 

Without aid, he lifted himself out, and slid into the jacuzzi tub that is located near by, where 110 degree water was beating itself around in circles. The old man broke out into a contented smile which lasted until he crawled out and jumped back into the chilly pool again. Clarence repeated this process a number of times until he swam his usual 25 laps. 

Why did this 96-year-old guy torture himself? First you have to understand what makes an old health-nut tick. Sure, the water was cold enough to send old Clarence on his way home to his rocking chair, but psychologically he doesn’t operate that way. His life-cycle is bordering too close to the grave, a defeat now would send a fear signal to his brain, saying he had it, and the road downhill would become a reality to him. 

I’m keeping track of Clarence to see how many laps are left in this old century plant. 

"A 96 Year Old Swimmer" Kik-Backs, page 51 (home)     (thread)

Walt Kik
"Women's Swimming Class at the YWCA, 1940"

"Swimming at the YMCA, 1953