Except for a five- or six-year period when I was in my 20s and clanged weights five days a week, I’ve always preferred the pool to an indoor gym for my workout.
For one, I can lie down while I do it. Two, the water gives me a full body hug, and I’m all about the touch.
My old high school swimming coach, Dotson Smith, gets that. Smith, now 82, is coming out of retirement to offer a pool-based fitness program for seniors who don’t currently do much exercise.
If you grew up in Austin like I did, you may remember the old Swim-A-Day indoor pool off of Spicewood Springs Road in northwest Austin. I swam there for a single semester, under Smith’s watchful eye, when I was a freshman at Anderson High School. (I graduated from Johnston High in 1982.)
Smith opened that pool in 1966, when he was just 29 years old. Over the next few decades, he taught thousands of Austin kids how to swim. He coached high school swim teams to state championships and receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in 2015.
“Swim-A-Day is not water aerobics,” Smith says of his new business. “This is a new kind of exercise program designed to offer health benefits no matter how old you are. It can improve your heart health, increase strength and flexibility, reduce risk of osteoporosis and help decrease depression. And we do it all while listening to the great music we all enjoyed when we were younger. It’s a blast,” Smith says.
Swim-A-Day sessions are available to seniors on a one-on-one basis, or in groups.
Smith, who coached me a second time, through a U.S. Masters Swimming program in Mission, Texas, in the 1990s, still swims an average of 1,000 yards a day. He credits his own pool-based exercise routine with keeping himself strong and able to recover more quickly from injury.
He doesn’t need to convince me.