Lansing’s 9th annual Hawk Island Triathlon saw over 600 participants this year, including one very special 79-year-old athlete. At 79, William Swords was the oldest racer to attend. According to Mr. Swords, he has been participating in the Hawk Island Triathlon for the past 9 years and will continue to do so until he no longer can. As the only member in the 75 to 79-year-old age group, his racing philosophy is the following: “You don’t have to be fast; You just have to outlive them.” The Lansing State Journal states that even Swords’ December injury of a fractured pelvis didn’t deter him from entering the race. The Lansing Triathlon is the largest sprint triathlon in Michigan.
Although amazing, William Swords is hardly the oldest to take on a physical fitness challenge. 85-year-old Lew Hollander completed at the 2015 Ironman 70.3 Boise. Out of approximately 1,200 racers, Hollander remained the only participant in the 85 to 89 age bracket. A lifelong athlete, Lew Hollander picked up triathlon racing at the age of 55 and has been racing ever since. He believes that life is something you either use or lose. And to prevent losing it, he continues to use it. While he will continue to do shorter races, the 2015 Ironman will be his last. If you’re an older athlete, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Although your athletic potential declines, you ability to maximize on the potential you have does not. You can still operate at high efficiency even though the maximum is gradually declining. In most cases, athletic decline does not become noticeable until the late 40s and early 50s.
- Don’t worry about getting older. You can’t change it so you may as well embrace it. If your run times are slower due to age, focus on your technique and complete your race in the amount of time you need. Not in comparison so a 20-something athlete.
- Your wisdom will guide your through. Younger athletes may be quicker, yet their inexperience may hinder them in the long run. Focus on your strengths, techniques, and expertise. Through this, your athleticism will shine.
- Participate while you can. Life is short and unpredictable and health is taken for granted until it begins to decline. Much aligned with Lew Hollander’s thinking, you have to use your life before you lose it.
Remember, age is only a number! So get out there and get active.