By Nicholas McLain/Times Sentinel reporter
— It’s hard to top the first lady of Indiana, but Mallory Mead came close.
Mead, an open water marathon swimmer, joined Cheri Daniels on Tuesday, March 23, in encouraging the students at Stonegate Elementary to commit to an active, healthy lifestyle of exercising and eating right, as part of the INShape Indiana health initiative.
Daniels, who walks 10 miles daily, asked kindergartners, first graders and second graders in attendance to try to do something active every day.
“Get out of the house and do something fun,” she said. “Basketball, football, baseball ... there are lots of things you can do to get exercise and still have it be fun.”
Daniels also said keeping the body in shape helps the learning process.
“It helps clear your mind and helps you to learn more,” she said. “You’ll be a lot more alert and awake.”
Daniels also emphasized the importance of getting the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
“Does that mean you can’t have the occasional pizza or cheeseburger once in awhile?” she said. “No. But always in moderation.”
Mead, 23, an Indianapolis native, told students about her experience swimming the English Channel between Britain and France, a distance of 21 miles (with the tides pushing her, she said she swam closer to 26 miles.)
Before a captive audience, she described swimming through a cloud of jellyfish and enduring the stings from each of them. She finished swimming the channel in 10 hours, 34 minutes.
While Mead talked about the importance of saying “no” to tobacco and alcohol, avoiding fast food and increasing calcium and protein intake, she also spoke about the value of persistence.
“Some people told me I was crazy (for wanting to swim the English channel),” Mead said. “Some just thought to themselves that I was. And when I was swimming, I got very tired, but I kept going and made it to the other side. You shouldn’t listen to the doubters. Live fearlessly. Don’t be afraid to fail.”
Mead and Daniels encourage students to try for the Governor’s Fitness Award, which involves daily exercising, abstinence from harmful substances and eating nutritionally along USDA guidelines. Visit www.in.gov/ inshape to register.