Local retirees form a synchronized swimming team

As you reach the end of the long and beautifully appointed main corridor of Mirador Nursing Home, you begin to realize that this is not your grandmother’s nursing home. Good. Maybe it really is. But – stay with me.

Turn left at the end of the quiet hall and the noisy sound of Jimmy Buffett’s Vulcan betrays Mirador’s conservative aesthetic.

Giggles and laughter can be heard from 70, 80 and 90 year olds who have just completed a synchronized swimming program.

You read that right: synchronized swimming.

“We’re not in a nursing home waiting to die,” said former swim instructor and resident Trudy Kenyon. “We live. We really live.”

Mirador swimmers

Kaeli Hernandez has a master’s degree in kinesiology. She teaches classes such as yoga, pilates, “posture” which helps tenants to strengthen their upper body, and of course water aerobics.

When Kenyon approached her with the idea of ​​putting together a synchronized swimming team, Hernandez said she immediately accepted.

“I just said, ‘You go with it and we’ll do it,'” she said.

Resident Jenny Mohundro said synchronized swimming seemed like the logical next step, based on what they were already doing in the pool.

“When we do aerobics and do exercises, we say, ‘Oh, that would be a good choreographic move!'” she said.

So on Monday, the team will put on a Fourth of July themed show for the rest of the complex. To prepare, Kenyon studied at what she calls “YouTube University” for inspiration.

Kenyon tailors what she sees by integrating aids like pool noodles into her workouts to make them accessible to all skill levels.

“None of us were going to dive underwater or anything like that,” Kenyon said. “We do not replace Esther Williams. “

Kenyon calls water the “great equalizer” because it doesn’t matter if a resident uses a walker on land—in the water, she says, that person is as capable as any “capable body.”

“We have one of our members who had a knee replacement and as soon as she was able to get here, she was in the middle of it all,” Kenyon said. “I kept saying, ‘Are you sure this doesn’t hurt?’ (She said) “No, no, no. Let’s do that. Let’s do that”. “

Mirador swimmers 2

Kenyon moved to Mirador after her husband died three years ago.

“I was sitting in my old house – and of course COVID was coming, so it made things worse – but it’s like, ‘I’m sitting here alone and I’m lonely,'” she said.

She said isolation is a common problem for older people.

“I solved the problem of loneliness and isolation that happens to old people when their friends die,” she said. “We also lose people in Mirador, which is always sad, but there is always someone new to come, so you immediately form friendships.”

And she continues to meet people through the synchronized swimming team.

“We all sort of know each other, but new people have come to Mirador in the last few months, so maybe we didn’t know them either,” she said. “Now… now we’re best friends.”

And with modifications, they can be as active as they want, and on their own terms.

“We have a lot of 90 year olds – a lot – and I’m convinced it’s because of the community,” she said. “And I hope to be among them, synchronized swimming.”


Genius on the back: local retirees create a synchronized swimming team