Editor’s Note: 37 year old Aimee Bruder has had cerebral palsy all her life. She qualified for her sixth Paralympic Games this year. She attended her first Paralympic Games in 1992. She competes in the freestyle, the breast stroke, the individual medley and the backstroke. She won three bronze medals in the Atlanta Paralympic Games, a silver medal from the Sydney, Australia Paralympic Games and a bronze medal at China. She qualified in North Dakota on June 14th – 16th, 2012, to swim the 50 meter backstroke for her classification. Athletes with cerebral palsy compete according to the amount of function they have. The highest functioning athletes are classified as S10. The athletes with the least amount of physical function are classified as S1. All her classifications were deleted this year, so she has moved up to a higher classification and will be swimming the 100 freestyle, the 200 freestyle, and the 100 breast stroke in the S5 classification. However, she still will be able to swim the backstroke in the S4 classification. Part 5 of a 5 part series.
In 2002 before the World Championships, Aimee Bruder moved to Birmingham, Alabama. “I was looking for a warmer place to live that had affordable living,” Bruder explains. “A friend had moved to Birmingham. I went for a visit and ended up staying. While I was in Birmingham visiting, I applied for jobs all over the city and found a job at the Lakeshore Foundation.” Bruder has lived in Alabama for the last 10 years. She’s brought her Paralympic medals and her desire to continue to train and compete in the Paralympic Games with her. The Lakeshore Foundation has been designated as an Olympic training center and contains an Olympic size swimming pool, a weight room and a track to train athletes wanting to compete in the Paralympic Games. “I work at the Lakeshore Foundation and train in the mornings before work and in the afternoons after work and on my off day on Saturday,” Bruder reports. “My coach Cal Elder is with the Magic City Aquatic League.”
In the Paralympic trials, Bruder swam her best time ever in the backstroke and made the Paralympic team by being ranked 5th in the world. “I’m 3 seconds away from being ranked 4th in the world, and I am working hard to get that 4th place ranking,” Bruder explains. When we asked Bruder how long she thought she could compete at this high level of swimming competition, she answered, “I know I will have to swim the rest of my life to stay healthy. The muscles in my body feel so much better when I am in competitive shape, but I don’t know how long I’ll be able to compete. I take life day by day. I try to make the best of every single day, and I don’t make any predictions about the future. You never know what may happen.”
Aimee Bruder is the classic example of an individual who has learned to live in the moment. We can’t change the past, and the future hasn’t arrived yet. Our NOW is the only segment of time over which we have power or influence. We don’t know what challenges we will have in the future, and the future doesn’t really matter, because there’s no way we can influence it until we get there. Aimee Bruder’s philosophy of life is, “I’ll be the best I can be each day and push myself to become better each day.” According to Bruder, “I like to swim and compete, because it’s an activity that I can participate in with other people. Swimming keeps me healthy and feeling well – both emotionally and physically. Swimming goes back to my childhood and the way I was raised. It has always been an activity in which I can participate. My coaches all along the way have provided an opportunity for me to grow in the sport and have been extremely supportive. After this year’s Paralympic Games, I don’t know if I’ll swim in a seventh, and I’m not really concerned if I make the next Paralympic Games or not. All I have to do right now is train as hard as I can for the Paralympic Games in Londonthis year and continue my work in the membership department at the Lakeshore Foundation.
I am really thankful to have a job, especially in this economy. Plus, I am able to volunteer and help some of the young people who come to the Lakeshore Foundation. I am thankful that I have a place that I can train before and after work that’s not far from my home. I have a great trainer, and I get a lot of support from the people here at Lakeshore. I am extremely grateful every day for every person who has been a part of my life and who has said, ‘Aimee, you can do this, and we’ll help you.’ I have learned that you can’t become anything in this world without the people who support and help you. I tell the young people I work with that, ‘Whatever you want in life, you have to dream about it, and you have to believe that you can become that. You have to understand that to make your dreams become a reality you have to be willing to work hard and surround yourself with a good support team. Don’t surround yourself with negative people but search out and find positive people to be a part of your life.’ The people who are helping me become what I want to be and are part of my support team right now are the Lakeshore Foundation and the Magic City Aquatic League. These people are a big part of the reason I’m going to my sixth Paralympic Games in London, England in a few weeks.”
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com