Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 15, 2014

I Am Still As Strong

I am fascinated by stories about endurance athletes of all ages. Last month, a 70 year-old Australian named Cyril Baldock became the oldest person to swim the English Channel. This grandfather of five managed to complete the 21-mile swim in 12 hours and 45 minutes and, in so doing, broke the previous record which had stood for 27 years. Impressive. In 1985, Baldock became the 5th Australian to swim the Channel. He decided then that he would one day attempt the swim again. He waited nearly 30 years to do so in order to become the oldest person to swim the Channel.

Otto Thaning
Last week, 73 year-old Otto Thaning, a heart surgeon from Cape Town, took the title from 70 year-old Cyril Baldock. Like Baldock, this was not Thaning’s first time to swim the Channel. He first swam it 20 years ago. Thaning, who has set other swimming records, told the BBC, “My wish was basically to promote the idea that people over the age of 70 can do things like this if they look after themselves and work hard.” And work hard he did. His training helped him to push past the pain and power through the 64-degree water to set a new record.

Last September, 64 year-old Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida. Even though Nyad had previously failed four times to complete the 110-mile swim across the treacherous waters of the Florida Strait, she refused to give up on her dream. On her fifth attempt she completed her swim in 52 hours and 54 minutes. When she arrived in Florida, Nyad told reporters that “you’re never too old to chase your dream.” She knows what she’s talking about.

Caleb is one of my favorite Old Testament characters. He was one of the twelve spies Moses sent to the territory of Canaan. And he was only one of two spies who brought back a positive report. God allowed Caleb to survive the wilderness wanderings and rewarded him with an inheritance in the Promised Land. At 85 years-old, Caleb said, “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then” (Joshua 14:11). Caleb did not shy away from tough challenges even when he was old.

Whether young or old, it’s important to have dreams and goals that compel us to work daily to stay active and sharp. Retired football coach Lou Holtz said it well, “If you’re bored with life, if you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things, you don’t have enough goals.” Determine to dream dreams and to set goals that will challenge you to stretch and that will redefine the geography of your life. Whether your dream is to complete some physical challenge or simply to love and serve others well, keep moving in the direction of your dream. Doing so will make each day just a little more meaningful.


  1. Dear Brother Omar;

    Thank you for inspiration through “I Am Still As Strong” and with one of the best teachings from the life of Caleb in the OT. I am much encouraged.


    • Dear Sudhansu,

      Thank you for all that you do daily for the kingdom of God in a difficult place known for its persecution of Christians. Your life inspires me to always serve God well. Please give my regards to your family and to the boys at Bethany Home.


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