Ontario Seniors Get Into the Swim of Things

Doctors and exercise buffs agree: swimming is great recreation. It's easy on the joints and excellent for cardiovascular improvement. The downside is the perception that it's difficult to learn as an adult; swimming needs to be learned as a child.

66-year-old Helen McDonald, of Monkton, Ontario is proving the maxim to be untrue. She learned to swim 3 years ago and is a show-off at front crawl, backstroke and breaststroke. “I grew up on a farm and farmed all my life, so I never had time to learn to swim. But, now I’m 66 going on 16 and life is good. I’ve become a fish,” she told The Mitchell Advocate.

Cheryl Phillips, Swimming with Seniors organizer at the Vanastra Recreation Centre told the media source: “The majority of the participants had swimming skills before joining the class but they had been out of the pool for awhile and didn’t have the confidence to go to open swim. They were hesitant swimmers.”

Former swimming instructor Peg Kellins, 77, of Clinton, was an instructor before heart surgery. She is slowly gaining back her endurance. “I thought these classes were the perfect thing to get me going again,” she told The Mitchell Advocate. Initially it took her 35 strokes to get to the other end of the pool, she’s now covering the same distance in 20 strokes.

Vanastra Recreation Centre manager Lissa Berard has witnessed a lot of improvements in the senior swimmers over the year. “Sometimes, seniors have stopped swimming because they’ve lost confidence so what’s nice is we give them a controlled environment and a bit of comfort,” she says. “We teach them to adapt their strokes if they’re starting to lose a full range of motion.”

Aquatic training is popular in Active Lifestyle and Assisted Living residences.