It’s never too late!

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.

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.

Here’s more:

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?

40 thoughts on “It’s never too late!

  1. I think this article is spot on regarding mental skills peaking at or around 60. I like the idea of being my best now regarding writing

  2. Love this! And maybe there’s hope for me, too! Your exchange with Brian (above) was hilarious, Elizabeth. Thanks much for the link to the article. Aging is such a mysterious process…any resource that suggests we can gain skills (like vocab) sounds fab to me! 🥰

    • Thanks, Vicki! Brian had me laughing 😂. Isn’t nice to know our best years can be ahead of us, that we can learn and improve at some things? I picked the photo of Caeleb because of the “elite swimmer” reference in the WSJ article. Then I discovered what he’s been going through. It’s quite a story and as a fan, I’m rooting for him!

      • Me, too – now that you’ve made the introduction. What a story! And yes – I don’t mind becoming less adept at some things if I can maintain (or improve) in other areas. Encouraging! Can I be less skilled at window washing? 🤣 Put in a request? LOL! Hope you have a great day, Elizabeth.

      • You’re right. There’s lots of things I can be less skilled at. Window washing and vacuuming are right there! Have a great day and weekend! 😊

  3. I might say ‘can we talk about his tatts?’ out of curiosity but that seems to get me into trouble. Our hearing is great the doc said wo evidently I got a 100 percent on the test meaning I stayed the same. One less thing to worry about. Now, if we can just ask people questions or express or opinion honestly without hurting feelings. I guess tatts have their own agenda and don’t ask some. I am still thinking of this 6 months later. Ah well, moving on. As I age, I still need to get better at moving on from what some people do or say and their sense of entitlement.

    • His tatts are patriotic. Bald eagle and the US Flag. I’m happy for your 100 percent on testing. I agree with you on moving on from things I might have worried about more earlier in life.

      • Well, the wording and numbers reminded me of the Holocaust, so in the same breathe I mentioned I had just been reading a book about the Holocaust in the classroom. Strictly, casual conversation relating to content in my classroom. Unfortunately, the 45 year old took it another way. I searched my mind and memory, shared it with a few other friends and they agreed harmless, unless she had something to hide. There is a story in that. Yes, moving forward.

      • And we talked about the tatts-patriotic and we move on. No feelings hurt as we had a conversation instead of gossiping about someone or being malicious to get someone in trouble-we discussed like adults and moved on. Thanks.

  4. Perhaps this is why I like words so much right now, and specifically using old-fashioned or archaic words that puzzle others or make my kids believe I am simply making those “new words” up to be an irritation to them 😉

    • I totally agree with you. I find myself using old-fashioned sayings lately that I heard from my parents or grand-parents. For some reason, it gives me joy.

  5. I get better at things I do consistently that involve my brain. Physically my body can’t match what it did five years ago

  6. My thoughts? I peak when my mind can separate the “important” stuff from the “I do not give a shit” stuff. The older I get, the longer the second list gets and the shorter the first list gets. I do believe I have yet to peak.

  7. I find this post so hopeful, Elizabeth. Reminds me of Arthur Brooks’ book From Strength to Strength where he talks about the fluid intelligence of our youth giving away to the crystallized intelligence of our 50+ years. While we may not be as lightening quick, we are better at synthesizing!

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