By Terry Rogers
Cindy Schofield says that she began swimming as a way to save her own life, starting in a friend’s pool. After retiring from the Philadelphia Police Department, she was dealing with a bone-on-bone hip for over two years. The pain in her hip had caused her to gain weight as she was unable to exercise.
“Once I had the hip replacement, I began exercising,” Ms. Schofield said. “Swimming was one I could do easily so I would swim in a neighbor’s pool. At the time, I had no idea about Senior Olympics, but when my friend closed her pool, I switched to the Boys and Girls Club. There, I met a 75-year-old woman named Santa who told me about the program. Once I decided to do it, I began training. My main goal was to swim faster than the day before.”
On Friday, October 6, Ms. Schofield participated in the Senior Olympics at the Dover YMCA. It is the 26th year for the Senior Olympics and those with qualifying times are invited to the Master’s Event which is held in a different city around the country every other year. This is an off year for the national competition so Ms. Schofield will only move on if she qualifies next year. Ms. Schofield competed in the 50-yard backstroke, 50-yard freestyle in the novice category and the 500 freestyle, winning two golds and a bronze. Her friend, Santa, who helped her get started with Senior Olympics won two gold medals at the age of 75.
“My biggest challenge was simply getting where I am today,” Ms. Schofield said. “In addition to my hip replacement, I have had a total shoulder replacement, plates inserted and I need two knee replacements. My doctor said I just got bad genes along the lines. I started swimming to get in better shape and if I lose three more pounds, I will have lost 70 pounds since I began doing this. So, in all honesty, all of it was a challenge. Swimming literally saved my life.”
Ms. Schofield purchased her home in Delaware five years before she retired. Her parents, who were living in Florida at the time, moved in with her once she retired from the police force. During her time on the force, she served as a K9 officer. Her first dog was a narcotics dog and her second was a bomb dog.
“I loved searching for bombs with my dog, it was one of the best parts of my career,” Ms. Schofield said. “I earned a Master’s degree while on the police force and ended my career teaching recruits. My father passed away, but my mother is still here with me. She is my biggest cheerleader and says she is the leader of my fan club.”
Ms. Schoefield said that the competition was a great day and that she met all types of people. She enjoyed the comradely among those who participated, even as they competed against each other. Some of the people she met at the event will be lifelong friends she believes.
“You can never be too healthy,” Ms. Schofield said. “That was my main reason for starting this journey. But, I’ve found that it has led me to some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and that is worth everything.”
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