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GET IN THE GAME

Andrew Storer warms up with various swimming strokes before he begins laps at Sam-O Swim Center. Swimming has helped him lose weight, lower his blood pressure and strengthen back muscles that have caused him grief since a surgery prior to moving to Baker City. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).
Andrew Storer warms up with various swimming strokes before he begins laps at Sam-O Swim Center. Swimming has helped him lose weight, lower his blood pressure and strengthen back muscles that have caused him grief since a surgery prior to moving to Baker City. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).

By GERRY STEELE

Baker City Herald

Andrew Storer of Baker City takes to the pool at Sam-O Swim Center almost as easily as a duck takes to the waters in the wild.

"My wife told me ‘You live to swim,' " Storer says.

"If I'd thought quick enough I would have responded ‘No I swim to live.' "

Storer, 56, can usually be found around midday swimming laps at Sam-O. He started in July and has continued almost daily since.

"I had several goals in mind. I wanted to lose weight and drop my blood pressure. I needed to get it done because of doctor's orders," he says.

Storer also had suffered a severe lower back injury, and, he says, the pain in the injured area is going away thanks to his regimen.

Storer, who says one of the reasons he moved to Baker City from the Salem area was because of the pool at Sam-O, had attempted to lose weight and lower his blood pressure by swimming before while in Salem.

"I did this before, then I quit for about five years," he says. "Then I found myself in the same predicament."

"In three months," he says, "I've lost over 20 pounds (23 pounds as of mid-November). My blood pressure has dropped close to normal. My pulse is 54. I'm pleased with that."

Storer tries to make a daily commitment. He started with a half-hour lap swim of 600 yards. He has now increased that figure to about 2,000 yards in an hour.

"I have a long way to go to get back in shape," he says. "I tell everybody it will take about two years to get back into peak shape."

Storer chose swimming over running or walking because it is easier on his joints.

"Running is hard on your joints," he says. "If you talk to doctors they will tell you the same thing. Swimming is low impact."

Storer discussed his options with Baker City chiropractor Steve Bachman.

"He told me three ways to do what I wanted to do were walking, swimming and bicycling," Storer says.

"If you think about it, swimming provides a lot better all-around workout."

Storer says his energy level has continued to increase.

"I'm expending more energy. You reach a point — for me about six months in — where you find yourself having more energy despite a full workout. And, I've found my flexibility has improved as well."

He says the benefits aren't only physical.

"My mental awareness also has improved," he says. "It's subtle, and it takes time. You can't go in the pool and expect immediate results.

"Set your own pace," he advises. "Everybody's different."

Storer says the best way for beginners to get started is to assess their skill levels.

"Your goal should be to be able to swim four strokes. If you can, then you're ready to begin working out in the pool. It's still a good idea to have somebody with instructor status assess your ability.

"Start off easy, at a level you're comfortable with. Some people try too hard, too fast. You kind of have to know yourself," he says.

Starting a masters program

Storer also is hoping to get a masters swimming program — for swimmers age 19 and older — up and running at Sam-O.

"I swam masters before for about two years," he says. "Every meet I was getting faster.

"In the program you are basically working out, getting stronger, getting in better shape."

Storer says the difference in the local program from other masters programs is that swimmers compete only against swimmers in their own age group.

"We're trying to put a team together," he says. "We have about a dozen signed up. We have our eyes on a meet in Newberg in February. That's an individual meet. Then the state meet is in March. There we can compete as a team."

Getting started is easy

Swimming is a relatively inexpensive activity. Storer says about the only equipment needed is a swimsuit and goggles.

Then, for the cost of a YMCA membership, people can swim on their own schedules.

The cost for a masters membership is $38 a year. And there is a $15 entry fee for meets.

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