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These Women Inspire Us with Their Marathon Swim of a New York Lake

Dr. Kate O'Keefe wanted to make a point that exercise makes aging easier, so she got 7 friends to take on something hard with her—swimming the 32-mile length of a New York lake.

The eight women didn’t have time to train. They only decided a week in advance to take on what they call a “menopause marathon,” a 32-mile relay swim across the entire length of Lake George in Upstate New York. But they did have a purpose that drove them from the beginning. They wanted to call attention to the important benefits of exercise for women over 50.

The group of eight, a.k.a. the “Estrogen Club,” range in age from 55 to 71, and over two days they took hour-and-a-half shifts swimming on the lake, starting on the southern tip on Thursday, taking the night off to sleep in their own beds, and finishing at Fort Ticonderoga on Friday afternoon.

“We decided we needed to do something positive with all that’s going on in the world,” said Kate O’Keefe, 68, a recently retired OB/GYN in Glens Falls, NY, who organized the group. O’Keefe, who estimates she’s delivered up to 8,000 babies, feels strongly that staying active acts as an antidote to the effects of aging.

“There’s no single thing you can do—a pill or anything—that’s better,” she says, than a half-hour to an hour a day of exercise. “I don’t care if it’s walking, swimming, or what.” She said studies show exercise leads to improvement in a variety of areas: from Alzheimer’s and cancer to your sex life and sleep.

Read More: The Mighty Mermaids Swam the English Channel: “We Smoked It!”

Swimming is COVID Safe

O’Keefe also wanted to make the point that swimming is something you can do safely during the pandemic. Though it’s traditionally a solitary sport, the swimmers weren’t alone out on Lake George. A boat followed each swimmer, providing any necessary support.

Even though the group is only recreational swimmers, the women reported no hardships with the relay. “I kept looking at my husband who was my boat driver and saying, ‘This is so much fun,'” said Trish End, 66, of Queensbury, New York.

That’s the kind of attitude we admire at NextTribe, and we also love that this swim isn’t a one-off for them. Every week, the women get together, not to go out for dinner or drinks, but for an activity that keeps them challenged, entertained, and healthy. We think that’s a prescription we all could follow in our own groups, in our own towns. And maybe it’s worth planning ahead for the next “Menopause Marathon.” Maybe next year, many of us with this Age Boldly mindset can gather on the shores of Lake George with relay teams for our own go at the 32 miles. Anyone ready to dive in?

Read More: Getting In the Best Shape of Your Life After 50

By NextTribe Editors


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