26 Jun Our Don makes a comeback
Any swimmer who has returned to the pool after some time away can tell you how amazing it feels, but for 91-year-old Don Muir it was simply a miracle.
Only ten years ago, at 81, Don was the 10th fastest swimmer in the world for his age group – showing that age was no boundary if you’re dedicated.
Swimming was his ultimate passion and everyday he walked the six kilometres from his home in Frenchs Forest to the Warringah Aquatic centre, before training with the Warringah Masters.
Sadly, in 2013, Don was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy, a condition which stiffened his muscles until he was so rigid he could barely move by himself.
Losing his independence, Don moved into the Uniting John and Helen Robinson aged care home in Gerringong and struggled to come to terms with the idea he would never swim again.
“He still continued to swim after the first couple of years of diagnosis,” his daughter Kellie Goodridge said.
“But slowly over the next two years it slowed him down and frustrated him and eventually he retired from the swim team. He was devastated, and I really felt for him.”
Kellie wasn’t the only one who had compassion for Don. The lifestyle coordinator at Uniting did too.
In fact, Margaret Darling wanted to help so much that she started researching to find a swimming pool with disability access so they could get him in and out of the pool.
Luckily, she found somewhere and arranged the opportunity to return Don to the pool.
“Part of my role here is to truly get to know our residents and find out what I can do to make them happy,” said Margaret.
“When I realised what a swimming champion Don was, I knew I had to find a way to get him back in the pool. It was an incredible day and he really loosened up and was able to move his legs a lot more freely than out of the water. I’ll definitely try to arrange it again.”
Kellie went along on the big day and was moved to tears as she watched her father return to his favourite hobby.
“It was lovely to see him doing what he loves best and great to see the support from Uniting. They sent a physiotherapist to solely look after him,” she said.
“He has lost a lot of expression in his face but I can see past the condition and recognise a little smile.”
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This story first appeared on the Kiama Independent site as 91-year-old swimming champ returns to the pool.