"The Heart of the Matter"

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Week: 534.2 Guest: Doug Huestis. Head Coach, Olympic Club Masters Swim Program Topic: Swim team- Competition and fitness go stroke for stroke Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: The Olympics have come and gone, and with the American swim teams doing so well, I'd bet Doug Huestis gets an increased workload...he's the head coach of the Olympic Masters Swim Team in San Francisco....and he's here to tell us about the program, and how anyone can get involved....

HUESTIS: In the 1996 rule book, it says, "Celebrating 25 years"...and the first Masters nationals was held in Amarillo, Texas in 1970 with 46 swimmers. It has steadily grown over the years, the first real Masters national championship year, as it were, was 1972, and it has steadily grown over the years to, usually you'll have some two thousand swimmers swimming in a national meet

NEMA: All age groups?

HUESTIS: Its set up so that you swim in five year groups, and starting at age 19, and it goes 19 to 24, 25 -29, 30 to 34....and masters nationals essentially mirrors the demographic changes that are going on in the United States. Everybody talks about the aging of America', and the fastest growing age group is the 85 plus. Well, its gone on to the point now that they have to have a hundred plus age group, because they've got several guys that are over a hundred years old that are swimming at Masters nationals. And the flip side of it is, and this is kind of unique, is that Master swimmers look forward to getting older, because they age up...and they're the young kid on the block now.

NEMA: Then tell me what the special benefits of swimming, and swimming competitively, have for seniors....

HUESTIS: The beauty of it is that you can start at any age and you can do well because there isn't a pounding of the body like you have in running. You're immersed in water that is essentially gravity neutral, your body doesn't overheat like it would be out running on a hot, muggy day. And I think its very conducive for anyone at any age, because of those factors.

NEMA: How does training differ for older swimmers when they get into the program?

HUESTIS: Well, most any program will assess what the present cardiovascular and muscular strength, muscular endurance level of the particular individual who's joining the program, and over a period of weeks, or even months, gradually increase the workload, and gradually getting in shape. There's been some fairly solid studies that indicate that older swimmers can train virtually the same kind of regime as someone in college. There really is no difference as far as how the body responds to training stresses. They all improve at any age.

NEMA: Doug Huestis says that everyone, especially seniors, get a tremendous social benefit from swimming with the Masters Swim Teams...they genuinely enjoy coming to practice to see their swim companions, and also hang out away from the pool...in fact he says its sometimes hard to tell the septuagenarians from the 40 year olds when they're hanging around the pool, and many are in much better shape than when they were 40. I guess that means swimming keeps you young. Well, I'm off to the pool...I'm Steve Girard.

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Last modified: November 01, 2021