“Swimming miles for Alzheimer’s…in honor of my sister, Meredith Katzman. I had never thought much about Alzheimer’s disease. That changed the day we realized that my sister, Meredith, then in her mid-60s, was experiencing serious memory loss. Then she began saying and doing things that didn’t make sense. Then she got lost driving. Then the folks at her Florida condo complained that she was roaming aimlessly and acting confused. Things went rapidly downhill from there.
“She was forced to move to a residential memory loss home. Within a year, she was shuffling rather than walking. She couldn’t complete a sentence. She fell a number of times. She landed in the hospital for various infections. She stopped eating. Hospice was called in. Ten days later, she died. Meredith was an athletic retired nutritionist who moved to Florida to be near her only son and to have the opportunity to swim her laps year-round. She had planned to start a private nutrition practice. Her plans were cut short. She swam her laps until she couldn’t. Then she forgot that she ever could. She was never able to help people with their health issues. Since my sister began to exhibit the first signs of memory loss, I came to realize that many families have similar stories. I wanted to honor my sister by swimming miles to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.
“My goal for the fundraiser was to raise $5,000 by swimming 100 miles to honor Meredith, as she and I were lifelong swimmers. I began swimming the miles in October of 2019 at my local indoor pool. Then in March of 2020, I was sidelined when the indoor pool closed due to the pandemic. By that summer, I was staying in the Catskill Mountains and knew that I had to come up with a new swimming plan. The solution was the lake in the nearby New York state park, Crystal Lake Wild Forest. I had never done any lake swimming and I was hesitant at first. But with my husband kayaking nearby, I could go the length of the lake and back for one mile. Throughout that summer, and thanks to my sister, open-water swimming became my new passion. To catch up on the lost months, I sometimes swam two miles. After every swim I would lie on my back in the water, thinking of my sister and how much she would have loved to share this experience with me. By the end of the year, I happily reached both my fundraising goal and my 100 miles.”