In the early hours of the morning, when most residents of Vi at Silverstone, a Life Plan Community in Scottsdale, Arizona, are still asleep, there are three Silver Foxes arriving at Silverstone’s indoor pool, ready to dive into the day, literally. The Silver Foxes are the community’s seven-member, unofficial swim team. To obtain Silver Fox membership, there is only one requirement: be a lofty goal setter. More specifically, a Silver Fox sets a goal of swimming 1,000 miles in the Vi at Silverstone pool. These three represent the early risers of the group and their daily ritual of morning laps may keep them fit, but it also motivates and bonds them.
The Morning Relay
The first waves in the Silverstone pool come courtesy of Silver Fox Mike Patrow at 4:00 am. A former Marine Corps Colonel, Mike is used to early mornings. “I feel tremendous after a morning swim,” said Mike. “If I miss a day or two, I feel antsy.”
And judging by his progress in the pool, Mike doesn’t miss many days. In 2018 alone, he logged over 500 miles, reaching his 1,000-mile goal after two years–an entire year ahead of schedule. But this highly motivated Silver Fox isn’t calling it quits; instead, he has renewed his 1,000-mile goal. “It helps to have a goal,” he said, “because you end up swimming more. You might think you’re tired but with a goal you just keep going and going.”
It also helps to have a swim partner. Next into the pool is Jim Graber who also swam 500 miles of his 1000-mile in just one year. “It’s just the way my day starts,” said Jim. “I get up, put on my bathing suit, head down and start swimming.”
Bringing up the rear, the anchor in morning arrival relay, is Jerry Anderson, founder, team captain and coach. Celebrating the speed at which his early rising teammates have met their 1000-mile goals, Jerry said, “These guys, who are swimming 500 miles are year, leave me in the lurch!”
The original Silver Fox, Jerry’s enthusiasm for swimming laps caught the attention of his fellow residents when he completed his first 1,000-mile goal in the Silverstone pool. From there, Jerry’s “team” of swimmers grew quickly, united by the same goal: 1,000 miles in the pool.
A master motivator, Jerry wants his team going for gold every single time they enter the pool, so he designed gold “Ring of Honor” t-shirts for the Silver Foxes swimming towards their 1,000-mile goal and red “Ring of Honor” shirts for members who haven’t set a distance goal but enjoy the camaraderie of the team. And each year he organizes a banquet to celebrate the team and honor member achievements. Under Jerry’s leadership the Silver Foxes have grown to five “gold shirts” and two “red shirts.”
Red shirt Gordon Schubert, aka “Gordo,” marvels at the progress he’s made since becoming a part of the team. “I’m putting the old me to shame,” he said. “I never thought I would be doing all this. If you saw me in the pool, you’d never guess I’m 92!”
There is no denying the physical and mental health benefits of daily swimming, but the Silver Foxes get just as much out of the being part of a team. Daily encouragement from teammates, accountability toward goals, and the celebrations when goals are reached, it’s all part of what comes with being a Silver Fox at Vi at Silverstone. “We motivate each other,” said Mike, “and I think that’s a great thing.”