Sports career

Senior Living: My Sports Career Watered Down

After trying a variety of athletic endeavors, this columnist discovered a lifetime of fun in the pool.

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I get to know my fellow Senior Living columnists through their writing. I know that Nick Rost van Tonningen goes swimming early in the morning, that Mike Boone walks his dog in the park, that Liane Faulder loves tennis. The latter made me stop and reflect on my own sporting life, or rather, the lack thereof. Here is my story.

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I was about five years old when my father dropped me off at a skating rink. He dreamed that I would become the new Sonja Henie, the charming Olympic figure skater and movie star of the 30s and 40s. I would skate on the artificial ice rink located in the city park near our home in Budapest, Hungary. For years, my weak ankles curling inward, I managed to skate carefully to the railing surrounding the space where the Hungarian figure skating champions practiced figure eights and Lutz (there was no no indoor skating rinks at the time). As I destroyed my father’s dreams, I developed a lifelong passion for watching figure skating that endures to this day.

Years later, never one to give up completely, I again tried my luck at skating on Beaver Lake in Montreal. When the result was about the same as in my youth, I got rid of my skates and now happily watch others slide on the ice.

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Having given up on making me a skating star, my parents tried their luck at tennis. So I started taking tennis lessons at the age of 15 on a court near our house. However, after finishing my studies and leaving my native country a few years later, a big gap in my tennis game ensued. I returned to the sport by joining the Monkland Tennis Club in Montreal. Appearing confidently on the court in my tennis whites, I soon noticed that the ball and my racquet weren’t on better terms than before. Trying to be helpful, my partner suggested that maybe a few lessons would help. I thanked him but decided that I would be happier socializing and swimming. I still had my racquet when I tried tennis on vacation, where the coach said my racquet was so old it must have come from ancient times. I finally decided to get rid of it, thus putting an end to my tennis career for good.

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When I arrived in Montreal, I quickly noticed that I was in mountainous country with hills nearby and that sharing a chalet with friends was the thing to do. While I enjoyed the après-ski atmosphere in our chalet in Saint-Sauveur in the Laurentians, I managed to avoid skiing.

Thinking that cross-country skiing might be for me, I finally signed up for a class at the YMCA. When they took us to a golf course and made us stand on a hill and then slide down, I started to have my doubts, having thought that cross-country would be done on flat ground.

Then I noticed an ad in the newspaper. A hotel in the Eastern Townships in Quebec said they would teach you to downhill ski in a week or get your money back. When I told my friend Geri about it, she said, “Go ahead, Alice. You will get your money back. Didn’t go, returned my rental skis and now enjoying a beautiful winter scene guilt free.

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Let me end the story of my sporting life on a happy note. This happy note is about swimming, one of my favorite hobbies. Whether it’s the fact that I was born in July and love summer, or that my body is best suited for the sport, some of my happiest moments happen in the water.

My love of swimming also started in my childhood. Spending summer vacation at my family’s cottage on the shores of stunningly beautiful Hungary

Lake Balaton, I learned breaststroke from my cousin Lily in the soft and caressing waters of the lake.

I’ve been doing it ever since, whether in the ocean, in a lake, or in an indoor or outdoor pool. Swimming and I haven’t separated since I was a child.

And now that summer is approaching, wish this aquatic baby good luck and happy swimming.

You too can enjoy the coming season.

Alice Lukacs writes the Life in the 90s column



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