Meet Edina's Hometown Heroes

Edina is made up of people who pride themselves with making the city a great place for living, learning, raising families and doing business.

James Martin

March 2017 -- Edinborough Park’s oldest regular, 93-year-old James Martin, never made swimming much of a priority early in life. Happily, however, a long and active retirement has allowed him to make up for lost time – and then some.

Jim and his wife, Catherine, first moved to the Twin Cities from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, over 30 years ago. It was not the couple’s first interstate move, and at the time, didn’t necessarily feel like a permanent one. Edinborough Park’s amenities played a major role in the Minnesota natives’ eventual decision to make Edina their year-round home in retirement.

“Having a nice, consistent, 80-degree indoor pool is great for lap swimmers like me, especially in winter,” Jim said. Its junior Olympic-size dimensions – 25 yards long and six lanes wide – are perfect for his purposes. “Honestly, on those blustery below-zero days, it is what keeps us from packing up and moving to Florida like so many of our friends.”

A stop at Edinborough is part of Jim’s daily routine. He aims to swim 18 laps each session, down only slightly from the 20 laps he logged through his 80s. When people comment that he is lucky to be healthy enough at 93 to be so active, Jim is quick to correct that his swimming regimen is a big part of why he remains in good health.

“Effort pays off. In Oak Ridge, I felt that people mostly sat around, socializing and treating the pool little better than a bathtub,” he remembered. “Here, thankfully, folks know it is for exercise as well.”

That is not to say that Jim does not appreciate the communal aspect of swimming at a City pool. Over the years, he has made more friends at Edinborough Park than he can count. For a time, a core group of them even formed a High Divers Swim Club. Although “semi-official at best,” said Jim, the club even had its own satirical quarterly newsletter (usually written and sometimes illustrated by Jim himself).

Although they disbanded several years ago, the last High Divers Swim Club members quipped that they had been staples around Edinborough long enough to warrant the installation of a commemorative underwater plaque at the far end of the pool.

For his own part, Jim does not anticipate slowing down any time soon. Over his long retirement, he has devoted himself to more hobbies than most people can boast over a lifetime. Exploring the Northwoods in an authentic birchbark canoe, flying across the country in his own two-person aircraft and maintaining a beloved vintage Austin-Healy sports car all rank high on that list. However, swimming at Edinborough is the one hobby he has been able to devote himself to fully well into his 90s.

“Maybe, when all’s said and done, I will have been here long enough to deserve that commemorative plaque after all,” he joked. 

23 of 60  Heroes

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