By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor
Maureen Jameson has the kind of varied interests you might expect from an associate professor of French at the University of Buffalo.
She currently is studying the ethical implications in the works of French authors who celebrate smoking “as an assertion of liberty and the right to seek pleasure for its own sake.”
When she turned 60 last year, she decided to continue to age aggressively, seeking help from a personal trainer and adding healthy diversity to her diet. (See her recipe for spicy vegetable stew at the bottom of this blog post.)
And swimming continues to be among her passions.
“I am hanging on by my fingernails in roughly the middle of the pack of our whole team,” Jameson said of her participation in Nickel City Splash, a 17-year-old masters swim team that gathers in the UB Alumni Arena pool several mornings each week.
Georgetta L. Morque, of U.S. Masters Swimming, connected her with me as a way to help shine a spotlight on Adult Learn-to-Swim Month, which takes place in April.
Drownings are the fifth-leading cause of accidental deaths in America, according to the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation, the charitable side of U.S. Masters Swimming – which encourages adults to take swimming lessons.
Jameson was kind enough to share links to the following WNY learn-to-swim programs:
• The YMCA
• UB adult class info can be received by emailing email@example.com
More than one in three adults can’t swim 25 yards in the water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jameson can swim a lot farther than that, and urges those who want to get in better physical shape to join the Nickel City Splash Masters Swim Team. Find its website here.
“The thing that’s moving to me is the number of people who have used membership on the team to come back from something awful or recover from something,” Jameson told me this week.
Some of the roughly 65 club members who swim routinely have had to step away from the pool for chemo. One woman member, while she was in a full body cast after an accident, decided to join the club when she recovered and vowed to compete in an Iron Man competition. “When we met her,” Jameson said, “she was training for the swimming part. It was sheer determination driving her.”
A former member threw a party to celebrate her 10-year anniversary of a life-saving kidney transplant, inviting the surgeon – and priest who had given her last rites – to celebrate with her, her family and club members.
“It is a tight-knit group,” Jameson said. “Some of us have been swimming together for as long as 17 years.”
Membership is limited to those aged 19 and up. The oldest member of the team is in his 80s, and he swims with his 59-year-old son. A couple of mother-daughter duos participate, as well.
Most team members do so for health and fitness reasons. Some are serious about competitions – mostly triathlons – and several members look to swim in the Masters Division World Championships this summer in Montreal. Others have the swimming basics down and want to improve their well-being.
“Speaking for the swimmers who swim close to my lane, most of us have moved to mainly vegetarian diets,” Jameson said. “We’re not fanatical but we’re disciplined. We’ll still go out and have a good time. We’ll have a party from time to time,” including a spot owned by one of the club members, Rocco’s Wood Fired Pizza in Clarence.
A bigger staple of Jameson’s diet is her main lunchtime dish, homemade vegetable stew on a bed of farro or quinoa.
Here’s the recipe she emailed to me:
(Makes about one week of lunches)
•8-9 very ripe tomatoes
• 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
• 2 chipotle peppers, chopped
• 2-3 tablespoons of adobo sauce (from chipotle can)
• 1 fresh jalapeño pepper, chopped
• 1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
• 1 head of garlic, peeled (or use garlic paste)
• 4 broccoli crowns, broken into small florets
• 5 large carrots, cut into small chunks
• 2 large cans of black beans
• 4 large onions, chopped small
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tbsp cumin seeds
• 1 tbsp garam masala
• 1 tbsp ground coriander
Prepare the base by blanching the tomatoes and removing the peels. Add to the saucepan the remaining ingredients listed under “base;” simmer for 10 minutes, then use a hand blender to turn into a smooth sauce. Pour the liquid into a large slow-cooker (or if you prefer a large saucepan). Turn the heat on low.
Add the broccoli, carrots, and beans. (I put in the water in which the beans are packed, so I don’t add any salt to the recipe.)
Heat the olive oil, onions and cumin seeds in a frying pan. When the onions start to turn yellow, add the remaining spices. Stir well, then slide the contents of the frying pan into your slow-cooked. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender.
Serve over a grain of your choice, and garnish if you like with greek yogurt into which you have chopped some fresh mint and a hint of garlic.