David Easterla refuses to let age slow him down.
The 75-year-old soon-to-be retired Northwest Missouri State biology professor competed at the U.S. Masters Swimming in Indianapolis, Ind. May 9-12 and earned medals in five different events.
Easterla finished third in the grueling 200 individual medley, fourth in the 50/100 yard breaststroke and seventh in the 200 yard breaststroke and 50 yard backstroke.
This was Easterla's fifth appearance at the U.S. Masters and the third place finish matched his best.
He also finished third in the 200 IM last year in Omaha, Neb.
Easterla competed against swimmers around the country in the 75-79 age range. To his knowledge, he was the only one there from northwest Missouri.
"I do it mainly for my health," said Easterla. "Swimming is the best cardiovascular exercise for the heart."
A graduate of the University of Missouri, Easterla says he's been involved in sports all of his life.
Determined to maintain an active lifestyle as he got older, Easterla took up swimming six years ago and qualified for the U.S. Masters a year later.
Easterla is also an annual participant in the Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas Senior Olympics, open to athletes 50 and above
These feature all kinds of athletic endeavors including swimming, track and field and soccer.
One year, Easterla swam 10 events in three hours and swept the gold medals.
"My body is a machine," said Easterla. "I respect that. They wear out. It depends on how good you take care of them. I've never abused my body. I don't smoke. I don't drink and my training keeps me in good shape. At age 75, I feel things in my bones, so I'm not going to get out and run. Swimming supports 60 percent of your body weight. It's hard muscle pulling against water instead of air."
Easterla conducts all of his training sessions at the indoor pool in Clarinda, Iowa.
It's the closest one of its kind to Maryville since Northwest shut down its indoor pool.
Easterla used to swim in Clarinda several times a week, but now just does it once—usually on Sunday—for 3.5 hours.
In a 25-yard pool, that equates to around 10.5 miles.
"If you're not in shape and you swim competitively, you will die," said Easterla.
Easterla has been a Maryville resident and Northwest biology professor for the last 48 years. He is the only one at Northwest with the title of Distinguished University Professor of Biology.
Easterla is set to retire from Northwest Aug. 19, but plans to keep up his rigorous workout schedule as long as his body will allow.
Page 2 of 2 - His next athletic competition is the Iowa Senior Olympics in June. There, he'll try to swim 14 events in three hours.
Easterla will also attend the Missouri Senior Olympics in August.
"There's 90-year-olds and 100-year-olds swimming," said Easterla. "I always push myself. That's me, though. I'm a hyper-active guy. I'm always go, go, go. That's my lifestyle. The key is to keep your body moving. Sitting around will catch up with you fast. I've lost too many friends at a younger age that were like that. That's the moral of the story."