Living Stronger is a new “CBS Evening News” series celebrating the people leading the way to longevity -- and inspiring the rest of us.
HOUSTON -- Six days a week, at 5:30 in the morning, you’ll find 75-year-old DeEtte Sauer swimming a total of 120 laps at a Houston aquatic center.
Sauer admits that when she first started swimming, she felt like a fish out of water.
“It was horrible, I quit in the middle of the first lap,” she said. “And I was swimming with my head out of the water so my hair wouldn’t get wet.”
In her 40s, Sauer was considered obese, tipping the scale at 250 pounds. She was ashamed when she couldn’t fit into a small boat on a family vacation and decided to do something about her health.
Sauer changed her diet and started exercising. It wasn’t easy, but she managed to lose 100 pounds in less than a year.
“You know what was funny, I had been so large that I forgot and didn’t believe that you could actually get a waist back,” she said.
She has competed in the last eight National Senior Games, an Olympic-style competition for more than 10,000 seniors. She was 58 when she found her passion.
“I can’t believe that I can be an athlete and win a medal at 58 years old,” she said back then.
Now at 75, Sauer has won more than 50 medals.
“Michael [Phelps] what does he have 12 or something?” she said with a smile.
She’s also active outside of the pool. Twice a week she tutors at-risk kids at a local church. And three days a week she teaches English and history to her grandchildren via Skype.
Sauer’s personal trainer Julie Green is amazed at how Sauer has defined living stronger.
“I am so in awe of that motivation that came from within her” Green said.
Sauer is now training for the National Senior Games this June in Birmingham, Alabama.
She was asked if she thought she would ever give up swimming.
“It will have to be taken away from me. I am not going to give it up,” she said of her swimming career.
And not giving up means going for gold, even in her golden years.