This is a photo I found of Caeleb Dressel from last year. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s a seven-time Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder. I remember watching him swim years ago at meets with my daughter. They are the same age and he’s one of the top swimmers in the world.
I read something very encouraging. It was from the Wall Street Journal and here was the opening paragraph:
When are we our fastest, strongest and most creative?
Elite swimmers peak in their early 20s, powerlifters peak at 35 and equestrians later still, on average. Creativity peaks either very early in our careers or later, depending on how we think. Our ability to quickly absorb facts reaches its zenith in our late teens, while our vocabulary skills crest in our sixth decade.https://www.wsj.com/articles/heres-when-we-hit-our-physical-and-mental-peaks-3b0f9a01?mod=trending_now_news_3
This article is called: “Here’s When We Hit Our Physical and Mental Peaks: Even when we’ve peaked in one endeavor, we’re likely getting better in another written by Clare Ansberry.
I especially like the bit about our vocabulary skills improving into our sixth decade. That gives me hope.
Economists, sports scientists and psychologists have analyzed Olympic performances and chess matches, as well as thousands of online quizzes to determine the average age when people peak mentally and physically. They are trying to understand how our brain and bodies work and if there are lessons on strengthening each. Checkmate Chess players’ performance rises sharply until the early 20s and peaks around the age of 35.
The good news is that while we may have peaked in one endeavor, we are likely getting better in another.
“At every age, you are getting better at some things and worse at others,” says Joshua Hartshorne, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston College, who researches how various cognitive functions change with age.
I didn’t realize at the time I posted the photo above of Dressel (which I did because of the first words of the WSJ article “elite swimmers,”) that after almost a year off from swimming he swam at US Nationals last weekend. For swimmers, who practice six days a week, often two practices a day — a year is a lifetime.
He left the 2022 World Championships in Hungary while the meet was still going on. Everyone thought that was odd and the explanation was health reasons. Michael Phelps was one of the first Olympic athletes to talk about his struggles with mental health. I listened to Phelps discuss his battle with depression at an event and I wrote about it HERE.
Dressel returned to the pool at U.S. Nationals this past weekend, and from what I’ve read he feels like he’s in a good place and happy to be back. Although he didn’t make the US World team and was seconds off his best times (which as a sprinter is another lifetime) he has his sights set on 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. His coach and teammates say it’s the happiest they’ve seen him in years and his presence on the team is a huge plus for everyone.
Back to the article, above. I think it’s encouraging that although we may lose some skills as we get older, other ones get better as we age. I’m also happy for Caeleb Dressel that he was able to rekindle his love of swimming and took the time to get the weight of the world’s expectations off his shoulders.
Here’s an article from Sports Illustrated from called Caeleb Dressel Is Finally Content.
What are your thoughts?