Returning to That 92-Year-Old World Champion Rower

The 92-year-old world champion rower that we wrote about here back in November has finally been noticed by everyone. Congratulations to him, and to the paper's authors.

Returning to That 92-Year-Old World Champion Rower

While we mostly focus on being the Marie Kondos of health, fitness, and longevity—simplifying things, cutting away all the clutter foisted by cursèd fitness influencers, and putting you back in charge—not on being first to break news ... hey, when it happens it happens.

Back in November, we read a fascinating paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology on a world-class, nonagenarian, Irish rower, and, intrigued, we called his grandson. Well, we didn't know it was his grandson when we called him. We had emailed Lorcan Daly, an Irish researcher and the co-author of the paper, and it turned out he was writing about his grandfather, whose late arrival to competitive rowing and remarkable success had long intrigued him.

As Dr. Daly went on to show, Richard Duncan, his grandfather, had preserved a large fraction of his cardiovascular fitness into his 90s. And, perhaps equally importantly, he had not been a lifelong athlete, only turning to competitive rowing in retirement. While doctors and fitness types like to say it is never too late to start, we know many people have a sneaking suspicion that it is just health patter. Well, this is a striking example of how, well, it's never too late to start.

It's never too late to start isn't just a boring cliché—it's true

Entranced, we did a November of 2023 podcast with Dr. Daly, plus a video, and a blog post about it. Convinced we were onto something, our social media team—okay, Paul's wife—sent the story/video/podcast around to various media outlets, thinking they would find it interesting. And there wasn't a peep, which was a surprise, because it was exactly the kind of upbeat story a lot of media fixate on, even if underneath this one there was careful research and thoughtful work.

And then, a few months later, it all changed. While our original work may or may not have played any role (hey, a boy can dream), Mr. Duncan's story showed up in a terrific Gretchen Reynolds piece in the Washington Post, and then, last week, in a Petter Attia newsletter. We are delighted at the attention for Dr. Daly and his co-authors' work, and for his grandfather, Richard Duncan, who is now 93, and is still rowing.

We can't promise we will always be this far ahead of the crowd on such things. Okay, fine: We think being first is often a bad idea, and part of the problem in a noisy and conflicted world of health, fitness, and longevity shouters. We can promise, however, that we will continue providing thoughtful, simplifying work on things that matter—like this.

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