In today’s world, finding a way to stay in shape can be a daunting task. For some individuals, it’s all about finding an activity they are truly passionate about. Margaret Cheney (pictured left) and Helen Bayly (pictured right) have found that passion by diving into the depths of the Robison Pool as members of Flip and Rip an age-group team led by Maria Coomaraswamy, Rensselaer’s men’s and women’s diving coach.
The pair took home several medals during the Masters National Diving Championship held Sept. 15-18 at the Aquatic Center in Eisenhower Park in Long Island, N.Y.
Cheney, a Rensselaer math professor, says she has a love for many things. While her passion in her professional life is for inverse problems in acoustics and electromagnetic theory, Cheney also loves springboard diving and recently set a new American record for women age 50-54 in the 3-meter event. She is the recipient of this year’s Viola Cady Krahn Award for Outstanding Performance in Masters National Diving Competition, which recognizes a female diver’s accomplishments over a period of time.
“As we get older, it’s good for people to take up new things in life, regardless of age whether it’s learning to play musical instruments or learning a language. That is what keeps individuals mentally sharp,” she says. Bayly is co-founder of the New York Civil Liberties Union, an activist, a journalist, and wife of Brian Bayly, emeritus professor of earth and environmental sciences at Rensselaer. “Often by middle-age, many of us try to find ways to avoid physical pain and illness that could severely limit our enjoyment of life,” says Bayly. “Swimming has helped me to deal with my arthritis.”
Last October, with some coaxing from Cheney and Coomaraswamy, Bayly took up springboard diving. At the recent competition, Bayly was the only woman to compete in the age 70-74 group and received a Gold Medal. She also placed third in the synchronized diving competition (age 65 and older) with her partner.
“It’s great to watch them during practice,” says Coomaraswamy. “There’s a youthfulness in them that radiates from the moment they step on the springboard. You can never tell their ages when they’re in the air. They combine their passion for the sport with a beautiful grace and strength that you would find in most athletesand they are truly having fun.”
The pair, along with other members of the team, will join divers from Connecticut and upstate New York to participate in the Flip and Rip Invitational that will be held on the Rensselaer campus in November.
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