By Doris Wedge
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Technically, they form the Deep Water Exercise class at the Cleveland County Y. Informally, they have named themselves the Silver Foxes, with one lone male who answers to the tag “rooster in the hen house.”
This hearty group of swimmers are comfortable calling themselves a “support group,” having developed relationships beyond their watery classroom.
They are a diverse group, with many interests outside of their swimming. But three mornings a week, they gather at 7 a.m. for water exercise. Some have been a part of the class since the Y opened in 1985, and they always are open to new members (male or female of any age) who find the exercise is a fun way to keep themselves stronger and more active.
Instructor Basha Hartley originally was a member of the class, but when their instructor quit, she took to training and became the instructor. Hartley can be counted on to liven up the exercise routines.
“She adds silly singing to the routines, even counts the reps in five or more languages,” Betty Monroe said.
The students have bonded as friends through birthday celebrations, going to movies or other outings and sharing their blessings.
“In other words,” Monroe said, “the class has become a community of friends, with new ones joining all the time, even as some of the older ones have to move on.”
They applaud each other’s accomplishments, as well.
Member Billy Lee is a veteran lap swimmer who is now in lap-swimming retirement due to shoulder problems. For 40 years, she marked her birthday by swimming that many laps, a personal challenge that continued until age 81.
Barbara Tunney gets to the pool an hour before each class session to swim laps. Each 36 laps is recorded as a mile.
Geography buff Lydia Zimmerman calculates Tunney’s mileage and figures that Tunney has swum more than 230 miles in two years, enough miles to reach Salina, Kan., or other locales.
“We have made a game of it,” Zimmerman said.
Marie Alley has found that the water exercise has helped her maintain strength as she battles Parkinson’s Disease and the effects of a stroke.
“I’m the new kid on the block” she said, “but swimming is wonderful therapy,” following up on the hospital rehabilitation she received.
Each of the two dozen swimmers participates at their own level, Monroe said, saying that the rule is “do what you can do.” They all say the deep water exercise has kept them off the sofa and up and moving. They are proud to say “no more being a couch potato.”
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