A decision for life

7,000TH MILE — William Cable, president of Austin Lake near Richmond, recently recorded his 7,000th mile of swimming. He began swimming laps daily some 23 years ago to improve his health. Here he is getting in his laps at the YMCA in Calcutta. -- Contributed

TORONTO — When William Cable was asked when he first started swimming, his reply was: “As a baby, I was tossed in the lake.”

Little did he know then that swimming would perhaps be the very thing that one day would save his life.

It was 1995 when Dr. Stephen Kuruc informed Cable, the president of Austin Lake, that he had three choices before him. One was life, the second was suffer a debilitating strok, and the third was death.

“Well I liked the first choice,” Cable said. And it was then that he began to leave behind his unhealthy lifestyle and he started swimming.

At 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 3, 1995, Cable took to the water once again. It was the beginning of a commitment to lose weight and get into shape. He swam 20 laps that first day. He then was able to calculate that it takes 70.4 laps to equate to a mile. That first mile took place inside the pool at the former Stanton High School.

Since then the Stanton pool has closed, as has the Stratton village pool where Cable swam many miles over the years.

During the summer months, there is never a problem finding a place to swim. Cable can visit his own backyard at Austin Lake, which has been privately owned by four generations of the Cable family since it was first built in 1940 and opened in 1946.

However, it isn’t that easy to get in his one mile a day, five days a week during the remainder of the year.

“It’s difficult in the winter months to find pools I can go to,” Cable explained. “But I was directed to the YMCA in Calcutta, where they have two adult swim lanes that are kept open at the aquatic center.

“They have a well-maintained, very clean facility, great parking and an excellent hot tub,” Cable said of the aquatic center.

And that is where, after 23 years, four months and five days, he completed his 7,000th mile at 8:30 p.m. on May 8.

When asked who his inspirations are, he quickly responded, “Connie Crawford and Karen Lundquist.”

The women were physical education teachers in the Edison Local School District where Cable worked as a teacher, and also served as aquatic instructors with the American Red Cross. His other inspiration was William Kulstad, fellow teacher and a competitive swimmer in high school.

At the age of 72, his health is excellent. His mind is focused. And he tells God every day, “Thank you for making all of this possible.”

“I’m healthy and have no carotid arteries,” he stated, adding swimming has changed his life. “I am still able to work seven days a week here at the lake and provide family entertainment.”

Swimming also allows the retired teacher to be out and about among young people and talk to them about their future plans — a passion of his that he misses since being out of the classroom following his retirement seven years ago.

The activity also allows Cable to mentally contemplate business issues, where solution-solving often occurs quickly. He also mentally practices flying procedures, as he holds a private pilot’s certificate.

“It takes dedication,” he continued. “The first 15 years I could jump up on the deck with both feet under me. Now I can only use one leg and have to use the ladder.”

“I had two Achilles tendon surgeries over the years, but I used a rubber deflatable full-leg boot that was made watertight to make me keep swimming. It’s all about dedication,” he said.

“No one is going to do it for you,” Cable said. “Many are willing to help, but no one is going to do it for you.” That is why, whenever he and his wife, Marsha, are traveling across the country attending meetings and events for the business, he still makes sure he gets in those precious miles.

“I have a Silver Sneakers Health Card I use that is accepted by YMCAs nationally,” he explained.

Cable is hopeful that his life-changing activity may influence others to do the same.

n the words of Mr. Rogers, who he often quotes, “You have influenced people you may never have met and influenced people you have met in a positive manner.'”

Cable also refers often to one of his favorite passages found in the book, “The World According to Mr. Rogers.” It is the passage: “The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing … and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing. And they love it in front of others.”

And he loves what he does. And it shows in front of others.