Extreme Sports at a "Mature" Age

Tom hart barefooting

Recently, I went barefoot water skiing on the Fox river in St. Charles with Kevin O’Connell and Tom Hart.  Kevin is a Naperville cop and Tom is a local realtor.  These two men are die-hard barefooters– they once barefooted on the Rock River for a charity event, in weather that registered only two degrees on the thermometer.  They had to break through ice to clear a path for the boat to go through.

Tom can barefoot forward, backward and on one foot– with the other foot in the handle.  And he can do all of this with a pulled muscle– he just ignores the pain and deals with it afterwards.  He looks like a kid out on the water and you’d never guess that he’s just a year away from turning…


I’ve been inspired by older athletes who are pushing themselves and setting new goals, even at the age of 80 plus. Like Jim Boyette– he started barefooting at the age of 45 and he’s now the world’s oldest competitive barefoot water skier at 83.  And he turns 84 next month, with no plans to stop competing.  “I can’t run anymore, but I can still barefoot!” he chuckles.  He reminds me of Banana George, who took a barefooting run at the age of 93.

Jim Boyette

Then there’s my friend, Judy Myers, who started this extreme sport at the age of 53. She’s now 68 and last year, she qualified and skied in the Barefoot Worlds. She recently had surgery to fix a tear in her knee and plans to get right back out on the water. Nothing is going to stop this gal from being dragged behind a boat at nearly 40 mph.

Judy  Myers

If you mosey on over to Growing Bolder, you’ll find tons of stories of “mature” folks reinventing themselves in midlife and beyond.  They’re not taking up shuffleboard– they’re out breaking skydiving records and pole vaulting. And nothing against shuffleboard– if that’s your dream, then by all means, grab a pronged cue and slide that disc down.  There’s a Shuffleboard Hall of Fame–dream big.  The point is, don’t wait another day to start doing something that you love doing.  And for goodness sake, don’t let age be the barrier– go break down some barriers and do something that’s never been done before.

Diana Nyad is going for a swim record at 60, swimming from Florida to Cuba.  She’s been derailed in her recent attempt, thanks to a school of jellyfish that stung her all over, but she plans to persist in achieving her dream.  I came across her site recently and this quote stood out:

“But for each of us, isn’t life about determining your own finish line? This journey has always been about reaching your own other shore, no matter what it is, and that dream continues.”


What are you waiting for?


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