At Age 69 FitOldDog Worked Around Instead Of Through His Shoulder Problem And Made His Best 100 Yard Swim Ever


Hi folks,

FitOldDog's deceased dog Nickel, FitOldDog loved Nickel,

FitOldDog broke his shoulder whilst running with Nickel, but it wasn’t her fault, it is just unwise to run with a dog on an extended lead.

I broke my left shoulder about 8 or 10 years ago, a complete dislocation whilst running with my dog, Nickel (who I still miss), on one of those extended leads. It wrapped around my legs, down I went, up came my arm to protect my head, my elbow made a beautifully aligned impact with the concrete sidewalk, and punched the head of my humerus out of my shoulder joint. About an hour and a bunch of morphine later it was back in place, but is has never been the same since. I spent a lot of time in physiotherapy regaining shoulder mobility, but the range of motion was strictly limited at certain angles, especially the angles used in free-style swimming. I then approached the problem with yoga, massage therapyFeldenkrais and Continuum, with some improvement.

More recently my shoulder mobility was improved by a direct hit by a bottle of beer thrown from a passing car, with an impact speed estimated to be around 40 to 50 miles per hour. The concussion shook up my shoulder enough to break a bunch of adhesions, giving me a much better range of motion, but it was still not as loose as the right one.

Over the last four months, coaching by Rick Fee has dramatically improved my swim, but the fastest 100 yards I’d reached until today was 1:26. The limited range of motion in my left-shoulder constantly impedes my pace as my left leg drops and wanders as I breathe on the left-hand side. A one-hour Ironman swim requires an average pace of 1:25/100 yards, which I have to first reach and then hold (for one hour). Then I saw a video posted by Jordan Blanco, one of the athletes, on my Coach’s AIMP Facebook Page, and I re-examined my approach to swimming with my damaged shoulder. The guy in the video, Harry Wiltshire, is fast, very fast, but he only breathes on one side, combined with a high cadence (arm turnover) and an oddly asymmetrical stroke. But it’s not about how it looks that counts as far as I’m concerned, it’s about how fast you go.

After watching this video, I went to the pool and worked on modified breathing (two-cycle right side only) and higher cadence (this will take time), and achieved a 1:25×100 yard swim as the last of a 6×100 yard set at the end of a taper (2,200 yard) set. The breathing was much easier, and previous problems associated with my right shoulder, as discussed in a previous post, just melted away. Working around instead of through the problem really shows promise in this case. Remember this when you’re addressing injury problems whilst developing a program of safe exercise for better health, or trying the nail the competition as an older athlete.

1:25 x 100 yards! YESSS!!!!!!

Thanks Jordan and Harry, it’s very much appreciated.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. You were very lucky with that beer bottle, or bottle of beer. (Did they throw out a full one? Did it break? Did you drink it?)

  2. Hi Marian,
    I was lucky it didn’t kill me, as the ‘beer delivery truck,’ a flat-bed truck with flat-bed trailer passed within 6 inches of my left hand side, almost blowing me off of my bike as the beer bottle hit me. It was a fascinating experience – time literally slowed down. The truck went by, couldn’t get the number (hidden by trailer), and then I saw the beer bottle arcing through the air, having bounced off of my shoulder. I remember noticing that it was a cheap American beer (America now has great beers, but this was not one of them, though that depends on the context – I’ll blog that story), and it was full because I saw it crash on the road and spill the beer. There are many ways that event could have killed me, but my survival I attribute to years of honing my bike skills, plus solid physical conditioning (this is the underlying premise of that great old movie, ‘Heaven Can Wait’).
    Nice guys in that truck, don’t you think?
    -kevin aka FitOldDog

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.