Saturday, March 2, 2019

Second Quarter and Counting, by James Van Pelt

★★★☆☆ Average

(SF Sports) The “Backspin” procedure can take fifty years off your apparent age, but with the risk that you might not remember your past. Grace dreads losing her best friend to it, but, at seventy, she understands why he wants to risk it. (5,525 words; Time: 18m)

"Second Quarter and Counting," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 03-04|19, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2019.115 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: At its heart, this story is about Grace trying to make up her mind whether to try Backspin or not. She doesn’t seem to share Todd’s obsession with avoiding old age, but she starts noticing all the little reminders of mortality, not least the decline of her swimming ability. Even though the huge effort she puts in improves her ability enough to win the National Championships, it’s hardly the same as being young again. Realizing that, she opts for Backspin too.

Con: As a sixty-year-old who swims a mile three times a week, I really wanted to love this story. The trouble is that too little happens in it, and the success at the end seems to be complete and cost-free.

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Thanks for the review, Greg. I didn't know you were a swimmer (or 60!). I swam in high school and college, and then coached swim teams for years afterwards. Swimming is a part of my triathlon training now. Despite all that swimming background, this was my first story that centered on swimming. I have, however, written a couple stories about aging.

    1. I went some years without swimming except on vacations, but last year I decided I wanted to lose some weight, and I wanted an exercise that wouldn't cause any joint problems. It was a real shock just how badly I swam at first. I used to do 500 yards of freestyle as a warm-up for workouts of 3000 to 4000 yards, but the first time I got in the pool, the only way I managed to swim 500 meters at all was in intervals of 50 with about a minute of rest in between. It took a few months to get up to 1500 meter workouts, and I've been content to stick with that. And just three times a week, not five. And no butterfly stroke, but I do mix in back and breast segments sometimes. Trying to do 100m on 2-minute intervals, but stuck at 2:10 for a while now. Lately I just swim a mile of freestyle non-stop, which is still not shabby.

      I have lost 22 pounds in the past 12 months. I am no longer overweight, and I feel better too, so I'm pleased with what I've got out of it. Some diet changes probably made a bigger difference, but even so, I always recommend swimming to anyone who asks.

      And, as your story says, you always feel younger in the pool.

  2. Sounds like our training programs are similar. I've added swimming back to my training for the last year after not swimming for years. The cross-training is outstanding, and I'm working upper body that I never really touch no matter how long I run or bike.

    I don't know if you have looked, but there are masters swimmers who are ridiculously fast. Check out Richard Abrahams, a 74-year old Colorado swimmer (I'm in Colorado). The times in this article are all in meters.