Powell's love for the sport gets him up and in the pool each day, but the health benefits of swimming are an added bonus.
On the first day of class, Powell handed his students an article that shared a study that swimming may increase your life expectancy. An article
from AARP states, "In a study of more than 40,000 men ages 20 to 90 who were followed for 32 years, swimmers were 50 percent less likely to die during the study period than were walkers or runners."
As he grows older, Powell has become extra cognizant of how his body and mind are beginning to change. He hopes swimming really does help him live longer. While his doctors assure him he is still in great health, Powell finds his anxieties about old age creeping in.
"I'm worried about being eighty-four because [my dad] was eighty-four [when he died]," Powell said, "I want to be like my dad but not too much, not perfect."
Specifically, Powell's worries about the longevity and reliability of his memory — his family has a history of Alzheimer's, so he is extra wary of signs of forgetfulness.
"I'm getting forgetful, and every time I get forgetful, it scares me," Powell said, "My mother's side all had Alzheimer's. They never knew who I was or who anybody was, you know? God, it was terrible."
To cope with his anxieties about developing Alzheimer's, Powell "exercises" his brain every day, he says, by playing Sudoku every morning and naming his four kids, their four spouses, and his twelve grandchildren every night before he falls asleep. This ritual helps him ease his mind.
"But it's getting bad, I can see it coming," Powell said, nervously, "But I am a lot older than most of them were when they got bad. So I have some hopes. And I also hope that swimming is going to keep me a little clearer."