92-year-old is overcoming COVID with return to swimming

Good Samaritan Society resident dives back into training for races this fall

A senior woman in goggles takes a breath as she swims in a lap pool near Good Samaritan Society.

Three times a week, Nan Bohl glides away from home for a passion that fills her cup.

The 92-year-old lives at Good Samaritan Society – Cedar Lake Village in Olathe, Kansas.

“It’s a lifetime sport,” Bohl says about swimming, an activity she loves.

Not one to sit idle, pooling her energy and hitting the water at the Olathe Community Center is an ideal way to spend an afternoon.

“I’m relaxed. It’s a relaxing thing for me,” Bohl says. “I’ve done it all my life.”

She’s not kidding and you can tell from her smooth strokes. Daughter Amy Thompson says her mom’s done this before.

“It’s wonderful to see her happy again. In her element,” Thompson says.

Medal winner

A local swim teacher for more than 40 years, Bohl has also competed in the pool since college.

She’s taken home United States Masters Swimming awards and set Missouri Valley records as an older adult.

“That’s my stroke (breaststroke). The one that I won the medals in. Oh, I won them in freestyle too,” Bohl says as she shows off a few prizes.

Unfortunately, this last year during the COVID-19 pandemic she couldn’t dive in regularly because of safety precautions in Olathe.

“Then she got COVID and it shocked us all,” Thompson says.

Right after Thanksgiving.

“I never went to the hospital but I got pretty sick,” Bohl says.

It took her a few weeks to get through. She continues to have some brain fog.

“She spent probably three weeks here by herself with none of us being able to come in and talk to her,” Thompson says.

‘Extremely impressive’

Still dealing with some aftereffects, Bohl is now working her way back into shape.

“I think she is extremely impressive,” Cheyenne Dains, Society wellness director at Cedar Lake Village, says. “Just very well loved in this community.”

Bohl’s strong will is leading to a quick turnaround.

“It feels good but I do it because I love it. I don’t do it for show or anybody else’s reasons. It’s me,” Bohl says.

Bohl is currently training for a Masters swimming event in October in St. George, Utah. Thompson and her three siblings couldn’t be prouder.

“Always blessed that I’ve had someone so strong. I’m going to get teary,” Thompson says, wiping away tears. “To think that in this day, you talk about women power. We’ve had it since we were little. You don’t realize that until you’re older. I get this (emotions) from my dad.”

Honoring Ford

Thompson’s dad Ford, one of Bohl’s biggest fans, died in 2019.

The couple moved into Cedar Lake Village together before that. It features a memory care unit.

“We had to move here (The Good Samaritan Society) because of my husband,” Bohl says. “He had dementia.”

Nan and Ford Bohl shared a love for each other and the water for decades.

“He became a pool designer. It wasn’t little pools. He did the big ones,” Bohl says.

It makes each moment practicing her craft special.

‘Keeping your body and mind active’

Bohl plans on pushing her body again this fall by signing up for as many races she can.

“If they can do seven, she does seven. If they can swim eight, she swims eight,” Thompson says.

Giving each her very best.

“She models health amazingly. Staying active, it shows that being active and just constantly moving and keeping your body and mind active that you essentially are not aging,” Dains says.

Bohl learned how to teach swimming through the Red Cross. She, along with her kids, taught swim lessons to many Olathe youngsters in her backyard pool. Bohl now has grandkids who also teach swimming.

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Posted In Coronavirus, Healthy Living, Senior Services, Wellness

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