Swimming: a lifetime sport

Masters Team member Linda Aubrecht pauses between laps at the Taos Youth and Family Center.

Photo: Tina Larkin

Linda Aubrecht moved from Minneapolis to Taos 10 years ago, after she retired. In 2009 she became a member of the Masters Team (part of the Taos Swim Club) that meets at the Taos Youth and Family Center Mondays through Fridays, from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.
She has enjoyed every minute of it.
“I have been swimming laps since I was in college,” said Aubrecht. “And I was a swimming instructor for many years. Then I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and had to use a wheelchair but still, I would swim at least five days a week.”
Even with her background, when Aubrecht joined the Masters Team she got a big surprised.
“I began teaching in the 60’s and a lot has been happening since then,” she said. “I found out that the techniques I used to teach when I was a swimming instructor had changed considerably. In all sports the equipment and the methods evolve over time, but in swimming, our own bodies are the equipment! I had to learn the new styles that had been developed recently.”
Taylor Jaramillo Etchemendy coaches the Masters Team. “We have swimmers from the beginners’ level to professional triathletes,” she said. “The Masters Team is one of my favorite groups because it is exciting to work with people who are so committed to improving and learning. Teaching the butterfly to someone close to 70 is inspiring! And Linda, in particular, has been an inspiration for everyone in our team.”
“Having a coach like Taylor is extremely useful,” Aubrecht said. “With her, we learned to swim like fish do, turning from to side to side as we stroke, instead of floating with our bodies flat in the water. She is also an excellent motivator who makes our time in the pool really enjoyable.”
Aubrecht was diagnosed with MS in 1967 and started walking again in 1989. “I used crutches and braces, and gradually gained so much strength that I don’t need any walking help now,” she said. “When I hike I just use walking sticks, but many people who are perfectly healthy do the same.”
She credits swimming with helping her stay in shape. “It kept my body active,” she said. “Then, I had a treatment called blood cleansing, which was very successful in allowing me to gain stability. When I started walking again, the rest of my body was ready and toned because of my regular swimming practice.”
Now she swims 3 times a week and walks 4 times. “My husband and I walk the dogs regularly and that is also an excellent workout,” she said.
Aubrecht starts swimming at 7: 00 am. “We have a wonderful community,” she said. “It’s fun to be with friends, to feel part of a group. That motivates me to get up in the mornings and go to the Youth and Family Center.”
She emphasizes that newcomers don’t have to be competitive swimmers to participate in the program. “Taylor will meet you where you are and will help you improve from there,” said Aubrecht. “Swimming will make a difference in your life, no matter your age or physical condition.”
Aubrecht is 68 years old and plans to continue swimming for a long time. “It is something you can do even when you have physical problems,” she said. “Swimming is a lifetime sport.”
Lisa Davis is a Realtor for Prudential Taos Real Estate. She is also known as the creator of the “Lost and Hound” hotline that helps people search for missing pets, and she pays for it to air at KTAO. The report is also downloaded into her website daily.
But there is another side of Davis. Aubrecht and other members of the Masters Team can attest to that. “She is a really good athlete,” said Aubrecht.
When Davis started attending the Masters Team in November 2011 she didn’t know what a difference it would make in her life. She considers herself a water person, but didn’t start swimming as part of a regular program until this year.
The results were remarkable.
“Swimming strengthened my body and trimmed it out,” she said. “Now I swim five days a week and that, besides being a good, healthy practice, makes me very happy as well. And our community of swimmers is the best part of it.”
She describes the group as “a meeting of cheerful and health-conscious people, always willing to help each other.”
Though the group is called the Masters Team, it doesn’t mean you have to be an expert or a competitive athlete to be part of it, she said. Its members range in age from early thirties to late seventies.
“Swimming is not too stressful on your body,” said Davis. “It is something you can do the rest of your life.”
Both Aubrecht and Davis agree that the workouts are designed to keep them form being boring. “We work on different strokes every day,” Davis said. “And Taylor also teaches us the right movements to avoid injures.”
Davis said that she has become addicted to swimming. She swims 5 to 6 days a week, for one hour and a half to two hours. “Another advantage is that you can eat at lot after that!” she said.
Like Aubrecht, she praised the new techniques that their coach has taught them.
“Taylor has a lot of experience,” Davis said. “She has the ability to see very quickly how you can improve.”
It seems that Davis has improved considerably. She will become the assistant coach for the Taos High School Swim Team, Jaramillo said.
“Swimming if for everyone and swimming is for life,” said Davis. “That’s my motto for the Masters Team.”
The Taos Youth and Family Center is located at 407 Paseo del Canon, East . Taos, New Mexico 87571
Phone Numbers: Taos Youth & Family Center
Phone: (575) 758-4160
Email: taosyouth@taosgov.com