It all began with a promise. It was a promise Beverly Loop made over 11 years ago and continues to keep today because of the integrity of her heart, the determination in her mind and the spirit within her soul.
It’s doubtful Keith Loop knew exactly how much an impact it would have, but he asked his wife Beverly to promise she would return to the swimming pool – even if he died.
Today, Beverly Loop, an 83-year-old Tooele resident has logged over 3,400 hours at Pratt Aquatic Center since the pool opened in 2003.
Even with all those hours in the pool, Loop doesn’t consider herself much of a swimmer. It was her late husband, Keith, who was the swimmer in the family. He’s the one she credits with getting her into the pool to begin with.
Loop said before the old swimming pool closed in 2001, her husband wanted to swim laps and invited her to accompany him. Loop reminded him that she didn’t swim, but Keith Loop persisted and asked her again and again to join him at the pool. Beverly Loop relented and said she would go if there was a water aerobics class, which there wasn’t at that time, but she went anyway and taught herself. Loop bought how-to book and took empty milk jars to the pool to use as weights.
But her time in the pool was short-lived: The pool soon closed and torn down.
Just prior to the completion of the newly built Pratt Aquatic Center, Keith made Loop promised that she would go back to the pool.
“Keith said to me, ‘Even if I die, I want you to go back to the pool,’” Loop said. “He made me promise.”
Keith passed away in August 2002. The Pratt Aquatic Center opened the next year and Loop kept her promise to her husband. She has been regularly attending the pool ever since.
Five days a week, Loop starts her exercise regimen with 30 minutes of her own water aerobics routine before attending an hour-long water aerobics class taught by Pratt Aquatic Center instructors. She concludes her morning exercise with 20 minutes of current walking.
Loop said for her, water aerobics is a great form of exercise, plus it allows her time to socialize with others – not to mention the exercise her mind gets by adding up all the hours she spends in the pool.
“I’m not a very good salesman though,” Loop said. “I haven’t been able to get hardly anyone to join me.”
Loop attributed the lack of interest in joining her to the early morning hours she keeps, even though she said water aerobics is a great way to start the day.
“You get your exercise over in the morning, and you have the rest of day to do what you want,” she said. “It’s just perfect for me.”
Loop said she and her friend Gail Mikesell were the two students in the first water aerobics class taught at the aquatic center. Loop said others started coming one by one and later, one by one, they started dropping out.
Loop joked she may not be able to sway many individuals into the pool for water aerobics so early in the morning, but she does remain loyal to herself and her priorities.
In her own day to day activities, Loop doesn’t let her age slow her and is determined to keep doing what she has always done. She remains active in her church with several different responsibilities; teaching a children’s class each Sunday, overseeing activities for girls ages 8-12 twice a month, and welcomes a few women into her home each week for an evening lesson.
A teacher by profession, Loop also taught first grade for 32 years at Harris Elementary.
As a means to keep her motivated, Loop began logging her hours in the pool. Mel Roberts, pool manager at Pratt Aquatic Center, encouraged swimmers and water aerobics participants to record their miles or hours in class in a logbook.
Within six months, Loop participated in 100 hours at the pool and became a part of the 100 Club. It wasn’t long after, Loop made it to the 250 Club. Today, Loop’s name sits atop the leader board with a commanding 3,400 hours.
When asked if she thought there was anyone else with as many hours, Loop emphatically replied, “Oh no, no one has been at it as long as I have.”
Instructors and class participants have come and gone over the years, but Loop is the one constant in the class.
“I’ve been through a lot of different instructors,” Loop said.
“I guess I drive them away,” she added with a smile.
Brianna Tunnell, a current water aerobics instructor, said Loop always keeps the class in line.
“Loop has been doing this for years and steps right in to help when she’s needed,” Tunnell said. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and all the ladies in class and chatting with them each day. It’s quite fun, and Loop is proof positive that it doesn’t matter your age, you can benefit from water aerobics.”
Roberts said throughout the day, a variety of age groups benefit from the pool.
“I think we are getting a lot of the older generation that needs some sort of exercise take advantage of the swim programs,” said Roberts. “We have a lot of people that come in early and swim laps before they go to work. We have the high school students that come and practice. There are also swim lessons available, and groups that come and use the pool for physical therapy sessions.”
According to the Pratt Aquatic Center website, water aerobics classes range from workouts to strengthen cardiovascular systems to mega calorie-burning formats, as well as classes designed to increase range of motion, flexibility and decrease arthritis pain.
Tunnell said she thinks people do not fully understand water aerobics and its benefits. She sees water aerobics as an underutilized exercise.
“If I could get one person out to do water aerobics in the morning, maybe some older woman like me, it would be really good for them. I really do believe that,” Loop said. “It gives me a chance to exercise and socialize, too. Plus, I think I am healthier for it.”
Loop has heard all the excuses as why people don’t come, from ‘I don’t like mornings,’ to ‘I don’t like the chlorine.’ Regardless of the excuses, Loop said water aerobics gives her a burst of energy and makes her feel good.
“From what I’ve read, just walking in the pool for 20 minutes is like walking outside for an hour,” Loop said. “That gives me enough walking exercise for the day. It’s the water that keeps me going.”
With a positive attitude like that, there is no telling how many more hours Loop will add to her pool log.
And it all began with a promise; that promise to her husband that helped Loop keep going these past eleven years.
“He made me promise,” Loop said.