New Mexico Council on Aging
by, August 28th, 2009 at 12:35 PM (2339 Views)
I recently spoke at the plenary session for the New Mexico Council on Aging conference at the invitation of NM Senior Olympics. I was introduced by NM Secretary for Aging and Long Term Care Cindy Padilla. There were easily 1000 people in the audience with many standing in the back. I was astonished to learn that my home state has an amazing support network for seniors. The conference featured speakers from NM government and private industry. There were many breakout sessions and roundtable forums. This is the 37th year of the conference and is the capstone event that unites many of the senior programs funded by the State of New Mexico. It doesn't attract much press (which usually focuses on doom and gloom), so learning about all of the various support programs for seniors in New Mexico was truly self educational and heart warming. New Mexico really does care about seniors.
I'm not a bad speaker and I have lots of professional experience. I am the past president of a major professional society and have organized many sessions and even an international conference; I've been the invited speaker at plenary sessions before - but - I've have never spoken before such a huge crowd. It was a bit scary, but once I got started and got the crowd to laugh a bit, it was like speaking to old friends.
I spoke about my experiences at the 2009 National Senior Games in Palo Alto this summer. Although the level of swimming competition is not up to the same par as USMS, the diversity of sports and the enthusiasm of the participants is my main motivation for participating in the Senior Games. I'll brag a bit and tell you that I broke the listed record for the 50-54 50 yard backstroke (and I'm 54) - but the listed record was broken at Clovis. The intensity of the athletes is a common factor that cuts across all sports. I attended 3-on-3 basketball games, doubles badmition, track and field and water polo. It's great fun to see other sports and watch other competitors during and after the events. With swimming, one never talks to your competition during the event - but for 3-on-3 basketball, talking (trash and joking around) is the order of the day. The same is true for water polo. It's great fun to hear the 80 year olds trash talk! I saw a doubles badmiton game between two teams that was very heated. The losing team (it was pretty close), would encourage each other as they won and lost points. The doubles match I saw was between 65-69 old (young) women. I could feel their enthusiasm and disgust with each winning or losing shot.
As a bonus, I got a free DNA analysis from a company that was offering this service to all NSG athletes. I just got the results back and they are very interesting. I didn't know very much about my genetic history, but I now know more about my origins. And I learned that I don't have markers to be a "sprinter". May it is time to try the IQ test races: 400 IM and 200 fly (which I have taken and failed in the past).
My big take away from the national senior games: even as we age, our spirits remain intact and the will to win never disappears. The body may turn to mush, but mental and spiritual aspects associated with the bond of competition will never evaporate.
It was an honor to speak at the NM Council on Aging conference and represent the sport of swimming. I'll always treasure the experience.