Susan Dawson-Cook

Aug 162020

Occasionally in the past, I’ve had vague disturbing thoughts of reaching such an advanced age that I’d be sent to an elder care center where swimming would no longer be available to me. What would life be like, I wondered? Would I feel tired all the time, lose the will to go on? Months later, I found myself out of the water at age 57 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’d returned from our Mexico residence (where I could swim daily in the Sea of Cortez) to our Tucson home (where every public pool was closed). Ironically, we’d recently moved from a house that had a backyard pool to a home without a pool since dealing with all that maintenance seemed unnecessary when we could go to local pools or our beach place to swim any time.

I tried running and continued yoga and soon found myself feeling anxious, creaky in the joints, and depressed. I felt uncoordinated and incompetent running and most of the time more exhausted than refreshed afterward. I dreamed of swimming every night and fantasized about rushing back down to Mexico where seawater was readily available. But it wasn’t what my husband, my mother, or my nurse daughter wanted me to do.

My mood plummeted day by day. Finally, I called my ex-husband and begged him to let me swim in his backyard pool. We are on reasonably good terms most of the time and he kindly agreed. I got in the car right away to rush over. I didn’t care that it was 50 degrees or would only be 8 strokes to the other end. I’d soon be suspended in water and have a chance to feel like myself again.

The swim, despite it’s limitations, was a wonderful experience. I wept I was so grateful to swim. And I went back again and again, buying him pool chemicals and foods I knew he liked to show how much I appreciated his generosity.

It’s an odd phenomenon-recognizing you’re so dependent on water. I’ve known it for years but never so profoundly as during this pandemic. Maybe I was supposed to be a dolphin. And there was some kind of miscommunication between the divine powers that be and I ended up human. I’m not designed to move on land and I crave water submersion like some people crave chocolate.  I simply feel like I’m missing part of myself when I’m away from water for long.

During that nearly two month stint we spent in Tucson from March 25 to May 15, my husband and I once drove two hours to Parker Canyon Lake. It felt amazing to swim continuously again, not reaching the other end just when I’d started to take a stroke. But it was a long drive and my husband didn’t want to swim. I never went again because it was a nuisance to him.

On May 15, we returned to Mexico, finally figuring “safety” during the crisis was more related to personal behavior than a place. We would return to where swimming was readily available. It felt like heaven to return to daily swims in the Sea of Cortez, where I could swim as long as I wanted and stop to interact with the bottlenose dolphins whenever they passed by. My swimming life returned to normal for a while.

In July, the seawater crept up to nearly 90 degrees F. My husband said he couldn’t swim in the sea anymore. The water was too hot for him. We’d heard a limited number of pools in Tucson had opened. You simply had to sign up online. On July 14th, we returned to Tucson and the pool signup system. I now sign up online two days ahead of time and wear a mask in and out of the facility. It works okay. But it’s stressful. I have to get up early every day to sign up for a lane before they’re all taken. And when I go, I only have a limited time to swim. I can’t stop and chat with a person in a neighboring lane unless I want to sacrifice finishing my 3000 yards during the 55-minute interval. And once, I accidentally signed up for one Oro Valley swimming location and inadvertently went to the other one and wasted half of my hour rushing from one pool to the other.

Despite the inconvenience of this system, I’m amazingly grateful to be able to swim. Each day I’m swimming, I don’t think so much about yardage or completing certain sets and intervals. I mostly enter the water for the experience – simply to feel the sheer joy of swimming. It’s a celebration, a validation, a recognition that despite all the chaos and the worries and the statistical predictions revolving around this pandemic, I’m still a swimmer. I get to be in my place – in the water. I appreciate the pool employees that work hard to keep the facility open for us and that the pool managers and staff that devised a system that would allow us to swim while keeping us relatively safe.

We went to Ruidoso, New Mexico for a week recently. I’d made some calls and learned that every pool in the state was closed. The pandemic is taken seriously there and they’ve had way fewer cases compared to Arizona or Mexico. I planned on not swimming but on the odd chance something worked out, I tossed a swimsuit and goggles into my bag. I Googled New Mexico lakes upon arrival and it turned out Grindstone Lake – a 20-minute drive from where we were staying – allowed swimming. We were soon in the car on our way.

As we drove through the entrance (masked up of course), I asked if swimming was okay, almost like I expected her to say “no” because being denied opportunities to swim had been such a frequent reality in recent months. When she said “yes,” a burst of elation surged through me. I’d be in the water within minutes. And soon I was stroking my way through chilly mountain water, surrounded by mountains and ponderosa pines and an azure sky filled with puffy clouds. It was sheer heaven swimming backstroke, feeling the chill of the water bring sharpness to my thoughts.

We returned to Tucson two days ago. We’ll be here until mid-September when we plan to return to Mexico. Then most days, I’ll be able to swim any time for as long as I want. I won’t need to sign up or leave at a certain time. My only limitations will be tropical storms in the area or rains that sometimes cause the Portuguese Man of Wars to proliferate.

In the past, I’ve taken swimming for granted. I imagined that no matter where I traveled and under any circumstance, the water would be there for me. Now I know that having a place to swim is a privilege. And I’ll always feel a profound sense of gratitude every time my face meets the water.

 

Jul 172020

Eney Jones performs the dancer pose in the woods near her Colorado home. Photo by Lily Donge.

Most Masters swimmers prefer water training over land-based activity. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis required many swimmers to hang up their swimsuits and find new training alternatives. Research shows that land-based activities can help maintain bone density and muscle mass and that cross-training can reduce the potential for injuries. Masters swimmers Mark Frost, Tom Boyd, Andrea Woodburn, Eney Jones, Hilary Cohen, and Denise Letendre share how they stayed fit during the lockdown and why they continued some of their land-based activities once pools opened again.

Oregon Masters swimmer Mark Frost, 53, has acquired four Masters Top 10 achievements and one Masters All-American berth in a 10K open water race. He joined the Oregon Masters Swim community several years ago and began training up to six days a week at the Hood River Aquatic Center.

Mark was experiencing shoulder pain when pools in his area closed in March. “Before COVID, I was considering transitioning to three, instead of five, days in the pool, using the other two days to do dryland shoulder work.”

He started biking around a 10-mile bike loop in his neighborhood dubbed the “Hamster” loop. At first, he cycled the route on alternate days and then started doing it daily or even twice a day. He’s now done this loop 43 straight days in the afternoons—rather than the early AMs when he once swam.

During the spring, he ventured out on an open water wetsuit swim in Hood River with two other teammates in chilly 55- degree water.  “Water flow is really strong this time of year.” Most of the open water swimmers wait until it slows—and the water hits at least 60, he said.

“I’m going to look for a balance coming out of this [COVID-19 crisis].” Mark plans to continue cycling after pools open “to improve my legs so I can start running again” and to “keep the weight off.”  After completing an Ironman Triathlon in Cozumel in 2013, he has experienced steady weight gain.

He’ll stick with his recently established afternoon training schedule, which has enabled him to communicate with European clients early mornings when he used to swim. Biking, running and open water—rather than pool—training will make that possible. He looks ahead to winning another open water championship and one day swimming the English Channel.

64-year-old Tom Boyd—coached by John Grzeszczak—swims with the Hammerhead Aquatics Masters team in Fort Lauderdale and has acquired 67 Masters Top 10 and one All-American award. A former college swimmer, Tom joined Masters in 1984 and has been consistently swimming ever since. After being diagnosed with a heart condition ten years ago, he has directed his focus on fitness rather than competition.

Pre-COVID-19, he did chest and shoulder work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and back, biceps and legs on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Thirty-five years of coaching experience gave him the know-how to design effective strength training workouts. His goal want wasn’t to bulk up—just to get stronger—and maintain a healthy bone density, which can’t be achieved through water training. He cycled through three sets of 6, 10 or 20 reps, doing fewer reps on days higher weights were selected. Stretches were added during rest intervals. In particular, he emphasized stretches for tight hips and hamstrings. This weight routine was disrupted when his condo complex gym closed in March.

Tom’s lockdown strength workout includes pushups (3×20), burpees (2×10), tricep dips (3×20), planks (2×1:15), mountain climbers (3×20), calf raises (2×30), jumping jacks (1×40) and a two-minute wall sit.  “I also do several sets of light-weight repeats of rotator cuff exercises.  Because I only have five-pound weights, I also do three sets of 100 curls as fast as I can to get some lactic acid.” He also does a workout “based on a set that coach John sent out that had a set for each letter of the alphabet and you spell out your full name, including middle name, for your dry land sets. It was fun, and I stuck with it (Table 1).”

Tom typically swam as much as 4000 meters four days a week and ran on three of the off days. Now he’s running four to eight miles before sunrise when he’s less likely to encounter others.

Tom will resume his normal weight routine and continue running three days a week once the lockdown ends and he can return to the pool.  “Once I can get in the water, I will do a lot of dolphin kicking on my back for my core. I will probably discontinue the drylands but will keep up with the planks.  I want to do the weights to help with bone density and muscle mass.” Strength training also helps with weight control, he said.  “I will always continue to do the rotator cuff exercises as I have chronic issues with my shoulders if I don’t.”

Andrea Woodburn, a recently retired family therapist, also swims for Hammerhead Aquatics in Ft. Lauderdale. She has acquired 10 Masters Top 10 achievements and has been a Masters swimmer for more than 25 years, serving in various capacities with her LMSC in more recent years.

When pools closed on March 15th, Andrea turned to yoga. She’s a 200-RYT Yoga Alliance certified instructor and enjoys a regular Ashtanga practice. She says yoga is similar to swimming in that “there’s rhythm and flow.” People who take her classes often take it for flexibility, mobility, and better emotional balance. “Who doesn’t like to feel at peace. People are really having this sense of being out of control. In Yoga, you gain insight on your own control over your own body. It’s very powerful.”

Andrea and her husband also practice tether swimming in their backyard pool, simulating 100-yard intervals by stroke count. She’s also been doing the A-Z strength and general conditioning work that teammate Tom Boyd is doing.

The dryland workouts have added a new component to her training.  “Sweat, heart-rate up, high energy, listening to music, I can feel muscles tightening—it’s overall good conditioning.” For many of those reasons, she plans to continue that mode of training post-lockdown.

Andrea believes in having options available. People not open to training outside the water “have no outlet,” she said. “I think it’s important to be well-rounded.” Even if pools don’t close again due to the pandemic, a person might have to stop pool training during an ear infection or other situation. Andrea also cites bone health as one more reason to persist with some kind of land-based training.

 

Table 1: A-Z or Spell Your Name Workout
A 10 Burpees
B 1-minute plank
C 20 pushups
D 40 jumping jacks
E 15 squats
F 3-minute wall sit
G 15 crunches
H 30 calf raises
I 20 body squats
J 20 mountain climbers
K 15 tricep dips
L  1-minute plank
M 20 lunges
N 30-second plank
O 20 pushups
P 25 arm circles
Q 15 side lunges
R 10 burpees
S 20 mountain climbers
T 20 jump squats
U 1-minute high knees
V 40 jumping
W 15 tricep dips
X 15 crunches
Y 3-minute wall sit
Z 30 calf raises

 

Andrea anticipates a return to open water racing. Last year, she swam the Hellespont, a swim that crosses a channel from Europe to Asia. More than 800 swimmers competed, and Andrea won her age group. “It was a really cool race.”

Eney Jones splits her time living in Boulder and Crescent Butte, Colorado. She was an NCAA gold medalist, has 104 Masters Top ten achievements, 7 Masters All American (pool) achievements, and 3 All American open water achievements. She was also a professional triathlete for nearly a decade.

The coronavirus lockdowns scrambled all of her aquatic plans. Eney had been slated to race in USMS Spring Nationals, a meet her dad was hosting, and to attend clinics in Canada and Australia. The sudden end to those plans and her water training felt surreal. “I went from a busy schedule to nothing.”

Embarking on land-based training, she chose to move away from goal-driven training. “I am doing things because I enjoy them, not stressing or training with the ‘end’ or ‘race’ in mind, but more with the ‘right now’ in mind. I used to think that more was more. More training, more activities, more racing. But now I am doing things for less time more often.”

She often ran nine miles while training for triathlons, for example. At first, it felt like a waste for her to try three instead. She gradually let go of that belief and started regularly running short distances with a friend. “I’m making it more about fun and conversation.” Often, Eney doesn’t even wear a watch.

In addition to running, she’s mountain and road biking and doing “kitchen ballet” (a combination of dumbbell exercises, yoga, and ballet), core work (including wheels – https://swimswam.com/finding-the-calm-in-the-storm/) and yoga—outside on the deck with her husband.

Instead of getting up at 4:30 to swim like she did when pools were open, “I sleep in and I’m eating and cooking better.” Sleeping past the wee hours has its benefits. Instead of the afternoon doldrums, “I have energy to go through the day,” she said. She has enjoyed this shift of mindset and activities she’s adopted during this lockdown. “It’s made me open my mind to the fact that other things could feed my soul.”

She admits the water’s never far from her mind. Her thirst for the water drove her to dive into ice-cold creek swimming. “You get in and it’s so cold, you think I can’t do this.” Then, she said, you go numb and don’t care anymore and “afterward, you feel great.”

After lockdown ends, morning “connection” walks with her husband and road and mountain biking will all continue along with the 30-minute “kitchen ballet” routine. “Yes, I will compete but not as much. Yes, I will swim but not as much. I have found that other activities are helping me keep strong and more focused on what really matters.”

32-year-old Denise Letendre “swam collegiately at Rutgers University and then started Masters in 2012.  I am a five-time individual All-American and 93-time Masters Top 10 swimmer.  “Primarily an IMer in the pool,” she also regularly competes in open water competitions.

“About two weeks after pools closed, I purchased a spin bike. My bike cost about 350 dollars and was easy to assemble. I started using the Peloton app to do spin workouts.  I have also incorporated strength workouts, dance cardio, stretching, and yoga into my routine.  The app offers classes in all those areas.  I like the variety.  I particularly like the spin classes because they mimic tough pool workouts.  Sprints and resistance challenges force me to push myself like I would in the pool.  I find myself drawing upon the same “grit” and perseverance I use at the end of a tough swim race.  Sometimes I even convert how much time we have left to a swim race.  Say we have 30 more seconds at a certain challenging speed.  I will tell myself that it’s the last 50 of a 400 IM and push myself like I would at the end of a race.  I get the same ‘high’ at the end of a spin class that I used to get when pushing myself in the pool.  I also feel like the cycling has kept my cardiovascular fitness at a good level.

“After pools reopen, I still plan to use the bike on days I don’t swim. It helps my leg strength and cardiovascular capacity.  I also plan to continue strength and yoga classes.  I had done yoga before quarantine, but during this time, I realized how much my body needs it. I have tight shoulders that I enjoy stretching in downward-facing dog.  I also feel like my balance is improving.  I usually do yoga before bed and it helps me clear my head of the busyness and anxiety of the day.”

Hilary Cohen, 57, lives in Atlanta, Georgia. After pool closures, she continued swimming in nearby lakes on weekends. That’s when “I normally do high volume swims back to back,” she said.

Despite all the turmoil, this seasoned distance open water swimmer has set her sights on competing again in Trifloyd 8, an eight-mile open water event from Clearwater to Tampa in November.  The COVID-19 crisis led her to ask herself, “What can I do to train hard now that I have this limitation?”

Her basement has been converted into a gym with “every piece of equipment.” A friend who owns a Cross Fit gym gave her ideas on implementing an effective core and strengthening program –on land and in an above ground pool—to improve her swimming performance. On land, she emphasizes work for core, shoulders, and back, performing a variety of exercises including planks, landmine lunges (with barbell), standing presses, rotator cuff work, kettlebell swings, waist twists (with barbell), and ball shots. She also suspends herself from gymnastic rings for pullups and core work. “There’s a host of core exercises I’ve added.” She has a large tire in her yard for flipping. This land-based regimen isn’t something she’ll discard even after pools open. “I’ve pulled a muscle in my back. I’ve had injuries.” She believes the dryland work is protective against these problems.

She encourages people locked out of gyms who don’t have weights at home to get creative. She suggests filling PVC pipe with sand and cementing the ends, filling milk jugs with water, or heaving kitty litter bags.

Hilary has one above ground pool in place and is in the process of setting up a second. When working remotely, she takes breaks to train in water just steps away from her computer. “It’s convenient and invigorating.” Recently, she’s been doing tethered sculling, kicking, fist swimming, breaststroke, and core work, including two and three-point plans. She hopes to be able to do full freestyle in her new, deeper pool.

With water nearby and a repertoire of workouts available, “I feel like I’m better able to equip with day to day stress. I can think outside the box and think ‘what else can I use?’ It’s good to experiment.”

 

 

May 152020

A feature I authored was recently published on the U.S. Masters Swimming web site. “Want to Swim? Try the Above Ground Swimming Pool Ideas.” Because of the COVID-19 crisis, photos not already on the server could not be uploaded with the article. So I am posting some of Helene Nehrebecki’s amazing photos here so you can see that she’s been able to do some serious training in her small, inexpensive above-ground pool!

 

 

May 092020

At the beginning of May, I launched a page on Vimeo – Sea and Sun Yoga –  that offers users the opportunity to stream or purchase videos of my yoga and fitness classes filmed in Tucson, Arizona and San Carlos, Mexico. Classes can be streamed for 2.99 each or purchased for 5.99. A $20 monthly membership allows you to stream as many videos as you like.

Some class formats available include Gentle Yoga, Flow Yoga, Resistance Band Blast, Yoga Pilates Fusion, Yoga Nidra, TRX training, Stability Ball strengthening, Stretching, and more! No two classes are the same. I will continue to add videos each week to add dimension to the program. I hope you enjoy these classes, which you can do at your convenience in your own home – where many of us are spending a lot of time now anyway!

Apr 302020

During this ongoing health crisis, I will continue to offer Zoom Yoga classes. They are free, with donations being accepted after April 10. All classes are Pacific time. I am offering a Gentle Yoga on Mondays at 9 AMYoga Nidra at 4 PM on Tuesdays (40 minutes), Flow Practice Wednesdays at 9 AM, Friday, Resistance Band Blast at 9AM, and Yoga/Pilates Fusion Saturday at 10 AM.  If you would like to join any of these classes, please set up an account on Zoom (if you haven’t already) and email me at susan@corazondeloro.com and I’ll send you an invitation. May you be calm, may you be well, may you experience harmony in your life today. Namaste.

Classes are $5 each or $40 per month for unlimited classes.


Class Type


 

I have also set up an on-demand site on Vimeo if you would like to stream videos you can do on your own schedule.

Apr 272020

We left our residence in San Carlos, Mexico to return to Tucson because of the Covid-19 crisis. In Mexico, I swam daily in the Sea of Cortez for an hour or more. Very little could deter me from the water. I even swam (with a wetsuit) on winter days the water dipped down into the 50s. And I swam on days when swells were large or there was a lot of chop. Not even stingray mating season could keep me out. On days when a large and soon familiar pod of bottlenose dolphins would swim by – occasionally pausing to play or chat – I felt as if I belonged out there in the sea and it was the one place on Earth I truly fit in. I felt at peace, calm, whole, feeling the gently rush of the water all around me and inhaling the salty air deep into my lungs.

All at once, I was in Tucson, not only without the sea but with no open pools. My mood quickly plummeted. I rushed out to run in hopes that I could acquire that calm I obtained from swimming post-workout. No such luck. By the end of the week, I felt uncomfortable sensations in literally every vertebra. My hips weren’t too happy either. For two nights, sleep eluded me. My body was rebelling against these new workouts.

I contacted an expert running coach, Dr. Jason Karp, once I had somewhat of a grip. It took about two weeks before I felt ready. Days before I called him, I broke out in hives worrying I might burst into tears during the call, which I was doing frequently when I awakened each morning realizing it would be another swimmingless day. Even when I did call, I had a hard time not sounding pathetic. I felt pathetic. In the water, I felt strong, powerful, like I was connected to the sea and everything that lived in it. On land, I felt clumsy, weak, like my body was old and falling apart. Jason suggested that I alternate days with walking and running. And on the days I ran, he suggested doing intervals. Then I might get more of a rush of good energy instead of that I feel like I’m going to collapse feeling, which was more descriptive of my experience so far. About this time, my husband ordered a TRX because he was frustrated with the interruption of his weight workouts.  So the next week, I planned to embark on Jason’s suggestion to alternate run/walk days with walk days and made the choice on my own that I would do TRX two to three times a week as well. This would hopefully provide the high and the optimal mental function I experienced after a swim. To restore some sense of calm, which I had also felt regularly after sea swims, I was teaching and practicing yoga and a type of yogic sleep called Yoga Nidra.

The first week went okay. The second one way better. I started to actually feel powerful while running. By resting before I started again, I could do intervals that felt respectably fast. My husband one morning remarked that I was getting faster. And I was loving the TRX workouts. I could do motions that felt like swimming. And my arms started to get more definition. My new plan was working. My body was adapting to new ways of exercising. My joints no longer hurt. I was feeling almost like myself again, despite the abrupt shift in training.

This is not to say I didn’t miss swimming. I still dream of swimming in the ocean. Of looking face-to-face at a dolphin while he makes chattering sounds and blows a bubble ring for me. I started buying books written by swimmers. Lynne Cox wrote two beautiful books, Swimming in Antarctica and Grayson. She’s much more adventurous than me, but her writing still speaks to me on many levels. Even when I can’t swim, I can vicariously through reading these books.

Last week I broke down and drove two hours southeast of here to Parker Canyon Lake. I stayed away from everyone. I had my husband nearby on the paddleboard for safety. The water experience was restorative, refreshing. But I knew then it was no longer the only way for me to get a decent workout or to find emotional balance. Running, walking, TRX training, and my yoga practices will carry me through until I am able to immerse myself completely in my water world again.

 

 

Apr 032020

If you miss swimming or being by the sea or ocean, allow yourself to take a time out and enjoy this very relaxing 20 minute Yoga Nidra, which will allow you to experience your happy place and emerge from the experience feeling replenished and refreshed.

Apr 032020

During this health crisis, when many are struggling to stay calm and find a new way to continue or begin exercise and wellness programs, I am offering Zoom Yoga classes. They are free, with donations being accepted after April 10. All classes are Pacific time. I am offering a Gentle Yoga on Mondays at 9 AMYoga Nidra at 4 PM on Tuesdays (40 minutes), Flow Practice Wednesdays at 9 AM, and Friday, Resistance Band Blast (April 10) at 9AM.  If you would like to join any of these classes, please set up an account on Zoom (if you haven’t already) and email me at susan@corazondeloro.com and I’ll send you an invitation. May you be calm, may you be well, may you experience harmony in your life today. Namaste.

If you would like to make a donation to support Susan’s ongoing teaching efforts, please click the link below.




Jan 142020

An intention or Sankalpa (resolve) is a positive statement, usually beginning with “I am,” “I feel,” or “My true nature is.” This affirmation, resolve, or heartfelt desire should be short, in the present tense, positive, and feel attainable.

Below are a few examples…

I am calm
I am content
I am grateful
I am enough
I am at peace
I am innately kind and compassionate
I am present in the moment
I am at one with humanity
I am listening to my body
I feel connected to my Divine nature
I feel God’s presence
My true nature is loving

Now to explain the difference between the intention that we use in yoga and a Sankalpa that is used in Yoga Nidra or deep meditation. An intention during yoga is something you focus on when you are awake and alert during your practice. The primary benefit is that it keeps your mind from wandering so much. During Yoga Nidra, a Sankalpa is repeated three times at the beginning and the end of the practice. In this case, you are operating in a state between waking and asleep where your subconscious is active and you have access to memories from recent all the way into distant past. In this space, you have more power to transform destructive thinking patterns to ways of thinking and living that better serve your emotional and physical well-being.

Many people have been able to let go of destructive habits – such as overeating, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as uncomfortable mental states – such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia – through meditation practices. f you want to begin reaping the benefits of Yoga Nidra, you can dowload the Insight Timer app on your smartphone. There are many free Yoga Nidra scripts you can listen to for free. Establish a resolve you can work with until it feels like it is well-established in your life. At that stage, you can progress to another one.

 

Jan 052020

Many people start a new year, making a resolution to exercise more. And that’s a very smart decision because regular exercise can do a lot to improve your health and mental outlook. What works for me and for many is to choose enjoyable activities. If it’s fun, you’re more like to keep doing it, right?

My passion is for the water and so most days, I can’t wait to get in the water! I walk down to the Sea of Cortez and savor my swimming experience for an hour, sometimes longer. Whether in the pool or the sea or ocean, I love the feel of the water rushing by me, the feel of propelling myself through the water. I like the solitude, the silence, the escape that I experience, which helps me clear my head of clutter and distress.

I love the multisensory experience sea swimming – smelling and tasting the salt, spotting sardines, sea bass, and stingrays – and on the most amazing days, encountering my dolphin friends. There’s a pod of 11 or more bottle-nose dolphins who often propel themselves underneath me with their powerful flukes or glid around me, sometimes in circles. Occasionally, a dolphin friend will come up nose to nose and nod or even make sounds for me. Clicks, chirps, and other calls.

The photo here is of me finishing an 1800-meter swim this past September in Miramar, near Guaymas, Mexico. Click here to see a short YouTube video clip of me wetsuit swimming. Water temperatures vary from the mid-50s F up to the low-90s, depending on the season, so I rang in the New Year wetsuit swimming since the water is quite chilly in the winter, even south of the border in San Carlos, Mexico.

Finding enjoyable exercise is one of many helpful recommendations I offer in my Fitter Than Ever at 40 and Beyond book. Stop making resolutions and quitting them two weeks later and embark on a journey of healthy living. Let 2020 be the year you succeed! If you haven’t read Fitter Than Ever yet, click here to pick up a paperback or here for the Kindle edition.