Still Making A Splash At 95

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By Joe Foreman, Editor

Swimming has been a part of Doris Wendt’s life for as long as she can remember.

“I’ve been in the water ever since I was a little kid – wading pools or whatever was available,” the 95-year-old Glenwood resident said during a recent interview.

Doris enjoyed splashing around in the wading pool as a young child and learned how to swim at the age of 13 when her family moved to Fort Dodge in 1936. Fort Dodge had a new school with a pool and every child in town was required to take swimming classes.  Doris enjoyed being in the water so much that she would return to the pool after school.

“We could do a recreational swim after school for 2 cents,” she recalled. “We had an ugly gray suit to wear and I remember I often went home with frozen hair because I often walked home in the winter.”

In high school, Doris took a junior lifesaving class and passed the test “swimming so many laps I thought I was going to die.” She enjoyed swimming throughout high school, but never competitively.

Her love of swimming continued into adulthood.

In 1962, Doris moved to Glenwood with her husband, five children and a dog.

“As a family, we all swam at the pool up on the hill (Elm Street),” she said. “It cost a family $25 a year and we could swim as often as we wanted. There were several families with children that spent their time up there.”

As her children grew older and less “family time” was spent at the pool, Doris continued to swim. She and a friend, Jean Jaskierny, eventually started driving to Council Bluffs together two or three days a week to swim at Lewis Central’s indoor pool. They continued to swim together when the Mills County YMCA opened its doors in 2006.

“Actually, we’ve been swimming together for about 20 years,” Doris said. “I’ve made a lot of different friends down there at the Y. From the staff on down, everybody has treated me with the utmost respect. They tell me I’m an inspiration to them and that kind of thing.”

Last fall, when Doris celebrated her 95th birthday, her friends at the YMCA staged a special celebration.

A survivor of a triple bypass, breast cancer and skin cancer, Doris said swimming and walking have been the primary forms of exercise that have helped her live a long active life. Her morning routine at the YMCA usually consists of swimming laps and water exercises. Her workout typically lasts 40 minutes “without stopping.”

“My joints, I don’t hurt anymore. At 95, that’s remarkable, I think,” she said. “I’ve also lost weight doing it all these years.”

Doris has scaled back her swimming during the recent winter months, but has no plans to throw in the towel anytime soon.

“It is beneficial,” Doris said. “I was just at the cardiologist and he said, ‘Keep active.’ Exercise is definitely beneficial for general health.”