Member Portrait: Lucrecia “The Polar Bear Queen”

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REI Member since: 1992
Favorite activities: Swimming, biking

Lucrecia will say her life changed when she decided to become a swimmer, at the age of 50. At first it was an extremely trying endeavor, both physically and mentally. Today, she is a proud member of the San Pedro Polar Bears, a club that promotes daily swims in the ocean, no matter the temperature. Among many personal goals, Lucrecia seeks “to empower women to realize their strengths through sports and outdoor adventures.”

Why is “outside” important?

I grew up playing outside, so it’s where I feel happiest, youthful, alive! My mantra is “Go outside and play,” and I think it’s more important as we get older. Nothing clears my mind and reboots my day like a run, bike ride, hike or swim. It’s where I go to forget about life for a while.

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Who are you inspired by to get outside? In whom are you fostering a love for the outdoors?

I’ve never needed any persuading to get outside. I have always had an abundance of energy, and I wake up eager to get out the door to start my day with physical activities. Seeing the happiness on the faces of others enjoying the great outdoors reminds me that we can pass on our enthusiasm and passion for an active life to others. One of my greatest wishes for my own children was always to make them active, healthy and passionate for an activity that would increase their quality of life.

What adventures are on your bucket list?

ANTARCTICA!

What is your favorite piece of gear and what’s the story behind it?

I love bikes—I have five of them: road bikes, mountain bike, and hybrid. My favorite one is a strand cruiser that I love jumping on to ride to the beach for my ocean swims. No need for fancy cycling clothes, I put on my flip flops, throw my swim gear in the basket and I’m off. I feel like a little girl when I’m riding that mint-green cycle! On the way home from my swim, I get to enjoy the feel of my body pushing the pedals with great ease as there’s nothing like a good swim to get you feeling strong.

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What does being an REI co-op member mean to you?

Being an REI member makes me feel like I am a part of a community of like-minded outdoorspeople. I love going into the stores and seeing people of all walks of life and ages picking up gear, and I imagine them going on their own great adventures!

You were recently crowned “Polar Bear Queen” by your fellow San Pedro Polar Bears swimming group. Those early-morning swims don’t look warm! What motivates you to get in the water when your body would rather stay in bed?

Something magical happened to me when I started swimming in the ocean. I lost my fear of cold water. I began looking forward to the initial shock of plunging myself into brisk water, of moving through the water and acclimating to the temperature. Best of all, there is no feeling like that of finishing a swim and having the ultimate sensation of a full-body workout. Salt water is therapeutic, for body and soul. I think about the afterglow of a good swim if I’m ever hesitant about going in.

 

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What advice do you have to share with women who, like you, want to take on new activities and adventures, but are hesitant to start?

I used to watch swimmers and wonder what it would feel like to glide through the water effortlessly. At age 50, I began my journey of lessons, pool workouts and eventually joined a group of ocean swimmers. The lesson I learned was that you don’t have to be the best, fastest or most graceful at something to reap the benefits. Stop waiting to try a new sport or activity. Take the plunge, recreate yourself and stop standing on the sidelines. Your body wants to move and play outside. Find some good women friends and make some play dates. A whole new world of adventure awaits!

Looking for more inspiration? Read other REI Member Portraits here.

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