Why I Need to Swim

Why I Need to Swim

Investor Esther Dyson finds peace of mind in the pool

I’m always looking for a pool, because I travel about 250 days a year.  I learned how to swim when I was 4.  In college I swam every day for an hour; now I do it for 50 minutes.  If the pool is too small, I do water-resistance exercises.

When I’m in the pool, I’m not writing, reading or calling somebody.  I’m thinking and making decisions.  It’s therapeutic.  I’m absolutely convinced that regular exercise keeps you from being a substance abuser.

Swimming also improves my metabolism, helps me clear my head and gives me more stamina.  It’s an entire aerobic exercise that doesn’t stress my bones.  It’s not weight lifting; I don’t have the world’s greatest muscles.  But I’ve got great endurance, and I am healthy.  I’ve never missed a day of work because I was sick.  I am also very clean—my feet don’t smell, because I soak them almost an hour a day. [Laughs.]

I have swum about 18,000 miles—roughly 400 miles a year.  I only occasionally miss a day, when I fly overnight to Asia.

One pool I love is at a friend’s house near Moscow.  It’s beautiful, with windows around three sides and woods outside.  The Breakers in Pam Beach, Florida, has fabulous pools.  When I’m in Greece in the fall, I usually bring along my wet suit and swim in the ocean.  I see so many amazing sunrises.

Once in Bulgaria, the pool was so dirty, I swear there were new forms of life being created on the bottom of it.  Then there was a pool in Munich where I suddenly realized it was draining.  I have dreams like that: I might be swimming in a river and it dries up.  It’s one of my anxieties.

—As told to Jon Saraceno

Esther Dyson, 63, is a leading angel investor in health care and space technology start-ups.

Reprinted from the April-May 2015 issue of AARP The Magazine.  Copyright 2015 AARP.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

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