Inspirations in Our Ranks, Part 2

“After becoming involved in Disabled Sports in 1981, I competed in my first International Meet in 1982 in Denmark. With the opportunity to compete against other hemiplegic athletes, persons of my equal range of motion, I jumped at the chance. I received a bronze medal in the 100-meter backstroke. Wow! Participating in this caliber of competition was something I never thought I would do. During this trip I learned what competition was really about. If I wanted to step onto the medal stand again in future
International competitions, my training would have to become more intense.

“My coach taught me how to put out while at the same time enjoy myself. At practice, I was treated just like the other swimmers, who were all able-bodied. Here I was disabled and practicing on equal terms with non-disabled swimmers. I was pushed in the same manner and not pitied. The sessions in the water paid off, with one silver medal and three bronze medals in the Paralympic competition in 1984. I kept training and competing.

“In 1995, I participated in the Joint Disabled Sports Organization Swim Camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This added fuel to keep my drive alive. I learned about stroke range, distance per stroke and a more efficient breaststroke kick, while the able-bodied learned how the physically disabled do their strokes.

“At the 1996 Paralympic Swimming Trials, I set an American record in my classification in the 200 IM. When I do butterfly and breaststroke, I swim with one arm, as my right arm does not move, staying by my side while the left arm does the stroke. I earned a spot on the Paralympic team, and set an American record in the 50-meter backstroke. In 1998, at 40 years of age, I was the oldest female swimmer at the World Disabled Swimming Championships in New Zealand. I made the 200-freestyle relay team, earning a gold medal in world record time (3:11.20). Stepping out of my comfort zone and pushing a little further each practice paid off. I finally had my gold medal and world record and my ultimate goal was fulfilled.

“The road has not been an easy one. Earning the respect of the community and having them accept me for my ability and not my disability did not come overnight. I do not worry about what I look like in the water. I just focus on how to do my strokes correctly, how to improve and how to go faster.

“When I go to Masters swim meets, the respect I receive from fellow swimmers is extremely meaningful to me. I just tell the officials that I swim butterfly and breaststroke with one arm due to my disability and my functional range of motion. As long as I make the officials aware, I am not disqualified. I swim all strokes, from 50′s to 1500 freestyle. I received my first High Point Age Group Award at the Stanton C. Craigie 5th Annual Swim meet in Ft. Pierce, Florida in 1994. I was beside myself for weeks. This recognition served as positive reinforcement for something I just enjoy doing.”

Moucha swims with the Blue Wave Masters Swim Team in Brandon, Florida, under the direction of Peter Banks.
Aimee Bruder is a 24-year old Cincinnati Marlins Masters swimmer.

“I have had the physical disability of cerebral palsy since birth and have been swimming all my life. I swim mainly with able-bodied athletes, but am also very active in disabled swimming.

I am a veteran of the 1992 and 1996 Paralympic Games. I also competed at the 1998 World Championships where our 200 free relay set a world record.

“I hold many American records. I recently competed at the 1999 USA Swimming Disability Championships and finished first in the 50 meter, 100 meter and 200 meter free events, as well as the 50-meter backstroke. I finished second in the 1500-meter IM and the 50-meter breaststroke.

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