Slower times with aging

In my youth (ages 9-18), I swam for a club team in the summers and was really only a middling swimmer. I never swam year round and focused on other sports. We only swam SCM back then. I had a 1:22.5 best in 100 m breaststroke and a best relay split of about 35.5. In freestyle, I swam only the 50 in the relay on occasion and I clocked in about 28.7.

After a 35 year layoff, I got back into swimming in 2012. I was pleasantly surprised to go under 40 in 50 m breast (39.42 my first time at age 54, and a masters PB of 38.82 in a non-sanctioned meet at age 60!) and I got down to 30.37 in 50 m free at age 55. In yards, I did 35.11 in 50-breast, and 15.47 in 25 yard breast the same day, which is the best time listed for that year (I understand many serious swimmers skip this event, so I take it with a grain of salt, but I still think it is a very good time). I once did 39.8 in LCM at 60, which I was also pretty happy with.

I'm now 65. After still getting under 40 last summer in a non-sanctioned SCM meet (39.55), at age 64, I did 41.28 this year. In 50 m free, I did 32.10 last summer at 64 and 33.28 this year. My training was not a lot different. I'm guessing some of it could be hand-held timing which is done mostly by teenagers and is probably a bit unreliable, but assuming these times are accurate, is slowing down this much expected? It looks like the difference in world record times between the 60-64 and 65-69 age groups in 50 SCM breast is about 2.73 seconds, but this doesn't necessarily mean anything (Rick Colella is a former Olympian and a great swimmer, but Arturo's times are insane). Increasing almost two seconds in a year is pretty disappointing. 

So I guess I have two questions: 1) Is this normal and should I just accept the inevitable 2) Is there anything I can do to slow down or even reverse aging (as a swimmer). I'm already taking a ton of supplements, including P2Life, and I've lost a lot of weight and kept it off. 

  • As soon as the doctor okays you getting in the water, after shoulder surgery is a great time to work on your kick

  • Yes. I used to swim with Shafer summer mornings at Greenfields, but that was probably 30+ years ago now. Would also sometimes find Rick at the Y in the winter, but that's even longer ago. Haven't seen either in very long time. Dave's name rings a bell, but not sure from where or what.

    I'm still in Woodbury, was swimming with GPAC masters until COVID stopped us in 2020. I developed a hardware infection on my femur in 2021 from a tri-training bike accident in 2014. Just now got back in at Riverwinds in WD a few weeks ago and hoping to start back at GPAC in the fall.

    I started swimming on LI but my Dad got transferred when i was 15 to Hartford where i started snow skiing and kept up my swimming onto a D1 team for a couple of years. In '65 we had used leather lace-up boots and wooden skis with steel edge inserts and cable bindings. I haven't been out east or west now in maybe 10 years.

    One can tell from the litany of health issues and injuries that life takes a toll: its short, precious, and I've been lucky enough. 

  • Thanks Allen!   I am doing that already in advance.  I enjoy it!  I also came upon an online Swimmer who is a PT and recommended that I could try freestyle with closed fists...  I did, and also incorporated my own PT's advice to go wide with the arms like a surfer paddling a board.   That initially didn't work for me.  But combined with the closed fists, and keeping the lap count low, feathering in lots of kick laps and breast stroke, I've been able to get in some satisfying workouts before I fly to Seattle to get this shoulder seen in person at the UW Shoulder & Elbow clinic, which is the best in the West!

  • I just count my career from 59 almost 60 to the last meet at 66 almost 67 years old. I did a best time in the 50 yard breaststroke at 49,83.. The 100 was different the best time as 1:48.4 in 2017 in 100 yard breaststroke.. I just swim one local meet and least year did a 2nd local meet. I mean a year.

  • I'm almost 78 and after 3 operations in the last year am just about ready to start back in the pool with very low confidence in myself!  I must just get in and see what I an do --- then go from there!

  • It's not easy to reset as one gets older. For me too. Hope it goes well and you're back at it soon. One step physically and mentally at a time, i think.