Michael Mann; Age: 58; Residence: Centennial, Colorado; Occupation: Owner of SwimLabs, where Mann and his staff help swimmers of any age or level improve their stroke by using underwater cameras and comparing client videos to those of expert swimmers’. He is also a masters swim coach at the University of Denver and Greenwood Athletic Club. Of note: Although he says he was no swimming star in college, Mann has set five national and 11 world records competing as a masters swimmer.
How did your swimming career start?
Mann: Actually, I started at the Littleton Y at age 6. I swam in high school. I swam at the University of New Mexico and played water polo there. But mostly, I sat on the bench and watched the rest of the fast swimmers swim.
Then you took a break for a few years. Why did you start back up?
Mann: It was really just for exercise. I tried running, and it hurt. Everything hurt: my knees, my hips, my back. And I thought: There’s got to be a better way. Then I started going to a couple of masters meets. Just last year, I had some of my fastest times ever.
How do you manage to maintain such a high level of fitness?
Mann: You watch what you eat. I love chocolate, and I love ice cream, so when I eat that, I know that I have to go do something to work it off so I can eat it again. I certainly do weight-lifting a couple hours a week. Obviously, the swimming helps (three times a week). I do some yoga.
How much does setting goals for meets help?
Mann: The goals are huge. It’s as simple as saying: You know, there’s a meet in March in Arizona I’d like to go do. So you know you are going to be standing on a block in a swimsuit racing, and you certainly want to feel like you’re prepared. So that’s your motivation. If you don’t have a goal, it will just kind of dissipate.
Have you had any injuries in your later career?
Mann: Not really. I’ve radically changed since I’ve done the SwimLabs comparisons myself. Not only have I become faster, but I really have become injury-free. If you have a bad shoulder, typically you are doing the stroke incorrectly. Occasionally, my shoulder will get a little sore, and I’ll back off. The old days of just pushing through it are gone. It takes too long to recover.
Describe why swimming is a good choice for baby boomers.
Mann: It’s non-impact. We go to these masters swim meets, and there’s 90-year-old ladies diving off the blocks. You can just keep on going. It gives you flexibility. It gives you strength in all parts of your body.
How long do you plan on swimming?
Mann: I think I’ll just keep on doing it. I don’t foresee a time where I’ll say I’m just tired of that, unless the water gets really cold. I’ll probably just float up on the beach as driftwood some day.
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