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by Kylie Magar

August 8, 2018

The annual 2K swim gave Hank Deutsch and Emily Wilkins fitness goals

Hank Deutsch has always enjoyed swimming.

Although he took a hiatus from the pool during adulthood, Deutsch took the sport back up when he retired and has incorporated it in his regular fitness routine ever since.

“[Swimming] is a key part of my life now,” Deutsch says. “It’s my big thing and I credit it to a lot of positive things for me at this age.”

Deutsch, 80, swims three or four times a week and varies his distances and sets regularly. As part of his routine, he wakes up at 5 a.m., bikes for an hour, goes to a CrossFit class, and tops it all off with an hour of swimming.

When Deutsch, who has been a U.S. Masters Swimming member for about 10 years, read about the 2018 SmartyPants Vitamins USMS Summer Fitness Challenge, he signed up and completed the challenge at the Memphis Jewish Community Center in Tennessee under direction of the aquatics director.

“You accept the challenge, make an attempt, and then you are successful,” Deutsch says. “At my age, any time you do anything like that, it’s pretty good.”

Although Deutsch has participated in distance challenges from other organizations before, it had been a few years since he had done something like the 2K swim challenge. Completion of the challenge gave Deutsch renewed confidence and heightened his enthusiasm for distance and competitive swimming.

“It further convinced me of the value of swimming as an exceptional fitness program for seniors,” says Deutsch, an unattached member within the Southeastern LMSC.

The Summer Fitness Challenge played a key role in helping Deutsch prepare for his next swimming events.

He plans on participating in the 2018 SmartyPants Vitamins USMS Fall Fitness Challenge, a 1-mile swim in November, as well as three or four additional swimming events throughout the year.

Swimming a Healthy Habit for Wilkins

Emily Wilkins started swimming early in life and has been drawn to the water since.

“I was always a copycat,” the North Carolina Masters Swimming member says. “My mom says I dove in the water before I knew how to swim because others did.”

Although her swimming routine was put on hold while raising two children and recovering from hand surgery, Wilkins was eager to get back to the pool. However, this past year has been difficult for her. After being diagnosed with diabetes and getting laryngitis for months, she began having problems breathing.

Getting winded quickly, however, didn’t hold Wilkins back from swimming.

“I crave water in the morning, and I find that a little push once I’m warmed up helps me clear my lungs,” Wilkins says. “[Swimming] has become a habit for me.”

When it came time to register for the Summer Fitness Challenge, it was an easy decision for Wilkins.

“I knew summertime would distract me from swimming regularly in my local pool,” Wilkins says. “The challenge kept me swimming even before the rest of my family woke up. I enjoyed mentally calculating the meter distance in my local 25-yard pool as I swam.”

Before Wilkins participated in the 2K swim, she had participated in a few 2K open water swims. She enjoys seeing her times gradually improve, and participating in the Summer Fitness Challenge has assisted Wilkins with accomplishing her health and fitness goals.

“Swimming means strong muscles, deep breaths, weightlessness, friendships with active people of all ages, and always keeping a swim bag ready in my car,” Wilkins says.

During the Summer Fitness Challenge, Wilkins was cognizant of how many meters she had completed. Doing so wasn’t a challenge for her. On a recent family vacation, Wilkins swam 0.7 miles in a hotel pool that was just 6 yards long.

“I think the teens were impressed that I swam for an hour without stopping,” Wilkins says. “It’s not too often a 55-year old can say that. I’ll take it!”


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