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MANATEE COUNTY, Florida (WFLA) – A Manatee county man celebrated his 80th birthday poolside on Friday at the GT Bray Aquatic Center in Bradenton doing what he loved most. He was teaching swimming lessons.
He talked matter of factly about his age, “I see too many people my age who don’t do this,” he said. Old is an understatement and I don’t want stereotypes to define me.”
Steinfirst first started lifeguarding in New Jersey as a teenager in 1949. “I just thought it was a lot of fun to do. And an interesting way to meet the ladies,” he said.
He later spent time in the business world, but his real love was always the water. Over his lifetime, he enjoyed sailing, scuba-diving and kayaking.
Steinfirst began teaching swimming lessons part-time in the 1960s. He was concerned that drowning was one of the leading causes of death among young children and took great pleasure in helping influence young lives.
“The instructing part is important to me,” he said. “It’s good to watch them progress.”
Steinfirst has been at the GT Bray Aquatic Center in Manatee County for about 11 years. During that time, he’s seen attitudes change among children and their physical health.
“A lot of kids just don’t want to exercise today,” he said.
He credits exercise for his longevity. “I’ve always been active. I’ve never been one to sit back and do nothing,” he said. “I swim about 1,000 yards every time I’m out here.”
Steinfirst believes you’re never too old to lead by example.
“[My fellow lifeguards] have trouble keeping up with me!” he said.
‘Old age’ can’t keep up with him either. To him, his 80th birthday is nothing but a new number.
“Just another day, really,” he said.