The 86-year old novice swimmer

October 10, 2022


Elsa is one of a kind….one of those great examples that you do not find quite often. A mother of 7, she was always a brilliant mind. Against all odds, she got her PhD right before turning 50. And although history was always her passion (mainly due to her education – strongly marked by an interest in humanities), so were sports.

She was always a recreational athlete and enjoyed working out. However, pursuing a career in sports was not an option for a woman born in the first half of the 20th century. Women of her time did not get that chance. 

But her interest in sports definitely took a different turn when her youngest daughter was murdered, over 30 years ago. Elsa started running and running fast; it was not just jogging, but really running until her body hurt so much that it “counteracted the pain in my heart”. After all, as most of us know, Elsa experienced that exercise had a palliative effect. 

It all comes down to those endorphins, that feeling of joy that intense exercise can bring. And so, she did the best she could to remain active throughout her life. But as time passed, Elsa’s body did not respond the same way. She retired (at 78), her husband got sick, she became a caregiver, and life happened…

“I looked terrible, I was overweight…”


After her husband passed away, Elsa even needed to get surgery; she got new, artificial hips that made it even more complex to go back to that old habit of running. Then, one day, she decided to turn the TV on and watch the Olympics. She took a look at all the swimmers and told herself:

“You know, I can’t run anymore because I have artificial hips but maybe I could learn to swim…”

But, again, there were a few details to take into account…She had asthma and was 86. Elsa had been diagnosed with asthma from a very young age and this inevitably had an impact on her sports performance. Her lungs were certainly going to take a big hit if she was not careful enough…

“I talked to my oldest daughter, who was a swimming instructor many years ago and she’s now retired but we went to the pool and then she told me “show me what you got” and then, I told her.. ”well this is what I got” and she taught me how to breathe well in the water” 


This was just  the start of an exciting adventure. As she was feeling stronger, she also wanted to work on her breathing; as an asthma patient, she talked to her pulmonologist and she recommended Airofit!

“And well, I took a lung test and my lungs were at 0.8L”

After taking a look at her own personal data, Elsa´s pulmonologist informed her that number was about right. Her lung capacity was way beneath an optimal level, even for a woman her age and physical characteristics, 0.8L was an extremely low number. 

“I wish she could have told me about this sooner!”.

This was, of course, a big shock! So, she started training her lungs with the same rough temper, admirable discipline and wonderful spirit that had guided her throughout her whole life. Five months later, here she is, with a Lung Capacity of 3.5-4L.

“Now I can also notice it because I can hold my breath for longer”

Even after getting Covid and Bronchitis in May 2022, Elsa never gave up – she continued with her breath training journey and was even able to keep her lung capacity up!

“It has been a struggle to get my breathing levels up after my bout with Covid and Bronchitis in May. However, last week I was finally able to inhale over 4 liters and exhale the same, so progress”


“I’m a big fan of Katy Ledecky (she’s like the greatest American swimmer ever). And she says that she is “too old” at 25 and she does not believe that she is washed up and I go and say: “well, I don’t believe that I’m washed up either”.”

She also tries to workout five days a week, three of which are dedicated to water aerobics, for which she bought the heaviest weights  she could get! 

“My goal is to show older people that they can do more than what society thinks they should. Don’t let people put you in a little box”

And with that same dedicated mindset, she now plans to compete in one of the Master Swimming championships! 

To her, all our admiration, respect and the best of luck!

Elsa, we are proud to have you as part of our family. Keep rocking!