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It started in the 1920s, in a little brook under a bridge in Providence, R.I. That’s where a young Rita Simonton (nee Gadbois), with a new pair of inflatable water wings from her mother, learned how to swim, going back and forth. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / LAT)
Simonton says she was a mediocre swimmer in high school, but she rose to be a world champion in her 80s. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / LAT)
In 1975, at age 53, Palos Verdes explosives manufacturer Bill Bell heard the 14 words that changed his life: “I want you to jog 40 minutes a day for three days a week.” (Irfan Khan / LAT)
Bell has completed 32 Ironman races, which include a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon. “My advice to anyone is simple,” says Bell. “Keep moving.” (Irfan Khan / LAT)
Russell Allen, 94, rode in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics as a 19-year-old, and was a top professional rider until World War II. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
Allen now prefers to ride at the beach in Santa Monica. He also works out at home and goes bungee jumping once a year with his daughter. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
Margaret Davis credits her fast times, lifelong health and svelte form — 10 pounds lighter than she was in her 20s — to a sensible training plan, a good diet and good genes (Spencer Weiner / LAT)
Davis, left, and her daughter Colleen Heublein, right, at the start of the 2007 L.A. Marathon. Davis finished first in her age group. (Spencer Weiner / LAT)