SAGE Swimmers Medal at Maryland Senior Olympics

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Article by: Suzanne Van Nuys, SAGE senior program coordinator

SAGE Swimmers Medal at Maryland Senior Olympics
Fulfilling Dreams, Conquering Fears, One Stroke at a Time  


Gloria Clarke just learned how to swim this February 2017 in a SAGE class taught by Susan Shell, Brenda Jenkins, and Marsha Jones-Byron at Allentown Road Aquatic Center. So, she would NOT have predicted that she would be swimming competitively in the Maryland Senior Olympics (MSO), held on September 16, 2017… let alone, winning a bronze medal in both the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle! 

"We are all really proud of our seniors and their accomplishments," said instructor Susan Shell. "It is such a pleasure to work with this outstanding group. I watched them persevere through difficult training, by practicing really hard, empowering each other, and encouraging one another."

Gloria, along with her friends and teammates, Pamela Gulley, Diane Hunter, and Veronica Boggs, brought home a total of nine medals and one ribbon from the MSO. It was Pamela, after volunteering as a class assistant and helping teach her colleagues to swim, who suggested that they try competing in the Senior Olympics and experience the excitement. And Pamela set a good example! She brought home the gold in 100-yard backstroke, silver in 50-yard front crawl, and bronze in the 50-yard breaststroke.

Diane Hunter stated, "I learned how to swim as part of the SAGE Therapeutic Aquatic classes three years ago…While learning and practicing our swimming skills, the four of us bonded, supported, and encouraged one another to overcome our fears, try our very best to improve, and get better each and every session." It worked! Diane won bronze medals in the 50-yard freestyle, the 50-yard backstroke, and the 100-yard backstroke.

Veronica Boggs' first class in SAGE was Therapeutic Aquatic Exercise in 2014 at the recommendation of her orthopedic surgeon in preparation for a knee replacement. "I hadn't given any thought to entering the Maryland Senior Olympics until I was made aware of this opportunity by Pamela Gulley. Even after registering for the competition I kept asking myself, why? Pamela's infectious enthusiasm, constant coaching tips, and endless words of encouragement played a major role in my decision." And it paid off! Veronica won a gold medal in the 50-yard backstroke and a fourth place ribbon in the 50-yard freestyle.

What a difference a SAGE class-mixed with equal parts motivation, endurance, competitive spirit, and camaraderie-makes!!! Gloria, a type 2 diabetic, has lost weight and now has her A1C level down. 

Diane shares, "The classes that I am taking from SAGE are wonderful because these classes have helped me to fulfill two lifelong dreams: learning how to swim and learning how to play the piano. These accomplishments have truly added joy, fun, and a sense of fulfillment and pride to my retirement." 

Veronica says, "I have benefited tremendously from the SAGE Program because I have a lot of fun. I have met many people who share a common goal of trying to live a healthier lifestyle."

These strong, energetic, determined, and motivated women range in age from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies, fueling the adage, "It's never too late to learn." They are an inspiration to us all.


Photo caption: L to R: Veronica Boggs, Gloria Clarke, Pamela Gulley, Diane Hunter

Photo credit: Kathy Hofmann, Office of Communications and Marketing, Prince George's Community College