When Vivian Stancil was 49 years old, her doctor told her that she needed to immediately improve her health. Despite being afraid of the water—she’s legally blind and had never been in a pool before—she was determined to learn how to swim for exercise. Now at 70 years old, she’s an award winning senior olympic swimmer who has started a foundation that provides free swim lessons to kids and adults. Director Riley Hooper documented Stancil’s journey in Why Not Now? Vivian Stancil. From the Los Angeles Times:

She learned to navigate by sound. At every meet, she gets to a pool early to scope out lane width and length. Then she does an exact stroke count.

“Being blind helps keep your brain sharp, because everything is done by memory,” she says. “I typically do 35 freestyle strokes in a 25-meter pool, and you can bet I count every one. Because nothing will ruin your day like bumping your head on the wall.”

And from her interview with Smart Girls:

“What I want to tell children and adults is, ‘you can be whatever you want to be, if you put your mind to it.’ I have problems just like everybody else, but I don’t allow them to get to me. I want to be able to leave a legacy to my friends and to the community.”

Swimming, health, and other stories that include visual impairments including The Blind Astronomer of Nova Scotia and How do the blind cook?

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