Health Team

Older students reap benefits of swimming lessons

Posted July 5, 2012

Older swimmers work out at Rex Wellness Center in Wakefield.

Tracy Doherty teaches people of all ages how to swim at the Rex Wellness Center in Wakefield.

She finds her adult students are much like the very young ones.

“Most of my clients have no swimming experience or their parents just didn't do it for them when they were younger,” Doherty said.

She says all 10 members of her current class were afraid to even put their face in the water. And for African Americans, the problem is magnified.

“African Americans – 70 percent of us don't know how to swim,” said Manny Marbet, a 63-year-old swim student.

Marbet and his wife, Iris, decided to improve that statistic by two. She started the class to help her recover from knee replacement surgery.

“And my knees feel much better and I lost 24 pounds and went down 4 dress sizes in the process,” Iris Marbet said.

Because of the more weightless environment, swimming is great medicine for ailing joints.

“Even if you're walking through the water, it's 80/20 percent - you're only walking 20 percent of your own body weight,” Doherty said.

Kathleen Downs, a 69-year-old swim student, said, “my hip on my left side, which has to be redone, it hasn't hurt me lately at all.”

Downs only wishes she'd learned to swim sooner.

“I'm more mentally alert,” she said. “I have a lot more energy and my attitude is much more pleasant.”

Even her cholesterol and blood pressure numbers have improved.

It's something she - and the other students - don't plan on stopping.

“Swimming is for life and it's for fitness and anybody can do it,” Doherty said.


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  • Reader X Jul 10, 2012

    Everyone should learn how to swim- even if it is just enough to save their own life. You never know when some disaster might happen and you find yourself in deep water or a loved one in deep water. What is worse? Living with your fears and never facing them or learning to face your fears and possibly saving a life.
    Besides, swimming is great exercise.

  • dwntwnboy Jul 6, 2012

    Swimming is a lifesaver- EVERYONE should know how to swim. I know when I went to ECU- if you didn't know how to swim when they gave the swim test- you KNEW what your P.E. class was going to be. I'm just glad I learned early and have never had a fear of the water- I do fear stupid people behind the wheel of a powerboat- but not scared of the water :-)

  • dwallace9392 Jul 6, 2012

    I would love to learn how to swim. I am just so afraid because I almost drowned when I was a kid. Some other kid was playing around and came up from behind me,and push me into the water, not knowing that I could not swim.I have had nightmares of drowning every since.