Making Life a Negative Split

The older you get, the slower you get, right? Not necessarily. In fact, I interviewed a guy who expected to die by age 60, but today at age 83 he is more active than ever. What happened?

Bob Beach, 83, decided in his thirties to start a new life.
Bob Beach, 83, decided in his thirties to start a new life.

He negative split.

In competitive swimming, a negative split means that the second half of your swim is faster than the first half. You give more and more effort to the point where you surpass the speed you had at the beginning.

Bob Beach did that with his life, and his profile appears here in the August issue of Swimmer magazine, the official publication of U.S. Masters Swimming (only members can access the full article). He is an inspiration and a true original.

The funniest bit about him is that he is a respected judge in Florida (it’s still possible in this state of strange decisions), and he likes to sleep in cars. Seriously, he travels the U.S. and the world and does not sleep in hotels or beds. He reclines and counts sheep in a classic Porsche (he owns two: one red, one blue).

“I’m only 5’6”,” said Beach by telephone. “To be honest, it’s very comfortable. It’s got contoured seats and I just put the seat back.”

Bob Beach's 2012 Christmas card shows his baby picture and recent adventures.
Bob Beach’s 2012 Christmas card shows his baby picture and recent adventures.

Around Christmastime, he compiles his annual adventures into a one-page photo collage. Here you can see the card from 2012. The card from 2009 shows him posing with women in costumes in disparate locations around the world, including one picture from Africa with the caption “Bobby with Ethiopian girlfriends.” They are taller than him.

Beach attributes his good health primarily to his twin decisions in his thirties to quit smoking and start swimming. He was not an athlete before, but he realized that he needed to change his lifestyle if he wanted to live a long life.

You can bet that today he woke up at 5:30 a.m. and swam nearly two miles in the pool–unless he is having one of his many adventures. One those days, he wakes up and starts driving.

Beach plans to keep going for decades. One of his Christmas cards made the prediction of living to 100 years old. If he makes it, and it looks like he certainly could, he will have achieved the ultimate negative split.

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