Just keep swimming.
For 36 years, that's been Alpena resident Charly Beach's motto.
Some days he has to push himself to do it, but Beach has kept a swim routine going that has put him within reach of an impressive goal.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena resident Charly Beach swims at Alpena’s Plaza Pool on Saturday morning. Beach, 74, has been swimming at the Plaza Pool for 36 years and has logged over 1,800 miles in that time. He’s aiming for 2,000 miles and should reach that goal sometime within the next three years. He swims 40 lengths of the pool twice a week, covering about a mile in total distance.
In the 36 years he's been swimming at Alpena's Plaza Pool, Beach, 74, has logged 1,858 miles and wants to eventually hit the 2,000 mile mark.
I'm just going to take a couple miles at a time. I think that's a milestone if I can get in 2,000 miles that'll make me happy and I'll just go from there," he said.
Beach used to swim 54 lengths in the pool, approximately three quarters of a mile and did that five days a week. Nowadays Beach swims a little less. He goes just two days a week and swims 40 laps or right around a half a mile.
Given his current pace, Beach should reach his goal within the next three years and said swimming helps him maintain a healthy lifestyle.
"The name of the game is my health. I'm doing it to live for my family and my beautiful four grandkids," Beach said. "That's what live is all about, your health. There's days I push myself to get over here, but I get here anyway."
At 74, Beach, a retired salesman, is a model of perfect health.
He doesn't eat junk food or fried food. He doesn't eat salt or take any medications and he's had nothing but bottled spring water to drink for 20 years. Even his blood work dropped from last year and his doctor has told him that he'll live to be 100. He weighed 180 pounds when he graduated from Alpena High School in 1958 and weighs just 204 pounds now.
Aside from swimming in his youth, Beach didn't swim much as an adult until his late 30s when a co-worker told him that he had recently taken up swimming for exercise.
"I worked with a guy at the time and he started swimming and I asked him what he was doing for exercise and he said, 'I'm swimming.' I said, 'Really? I used to swim when I was a kid, but I haven't swam much since,'" Beach said.
From then on, Beach was hooked.
Swimming turned out to be the perfect form of exercise for Beach, who said swimming is a weightless exercise and one where he doesn't have to break a sweat. Swimming runs in Beach's family and Beach said all of his grandchildren enjoy swimming as well.
He doesn't swim as much now as he used to, but Beach keeps plugging away each week. He swims a casual freestyle stroke and has come a long away from the first time he came to the pool to start swimming.
"The first time I swam in '78, there was a guy alongside of me that I knew real well and he said, 'I swam a quarter of a mile.' I said, "A quarter of a mile! You've got to be kidding me!" Beach said.
Beach isn't sure when he'll stop swimming, but said that as long as he's able to, he'll keep going.
"I think it's a goal and I've probably got more time than that, but I never kept track of it," Beach said. "I'm keeping track to get to 2,000 miles and good Lord willing, I hope I can do it."