Linda Richardson always loved to swim, so when her Veterans Administration advisers suggested physical training through the Turnstone Center after her stroke four years ago, she checked it out.
The 62-year-old Army veteran now competes on Team Turnstone at the Endeavor Games, a national competition for people with physical disabilities originating out of the University of Central Oklahoma. Saturday was the final day for the three-day event staged at different locations in Allen County.
Jaime Garzon, Endeavor Games event director and Turnstone's coordinator of competitions, said Fort Wayne has hosted the competition five years in a row, last year being an online event.
Competitors came from California, Florida and Texas as well as Midwestern locations to compete in an expanded list of events as well as clinics. Garzon said 112 athletes competed in nine events that included archery and adaptive standing and wheelchair tennis, both new to the lineup. Other competitions or clinics offered were power soccer, sitting volleyball, boccia, shooting, track and field and swimming.
On Saturday, coaches and fans turned out to support 19 swimmers at Carroll High School's natatorium. Backstroke is Richardson's best; butterfly, her least favorite, she said. All swim strokes including freestyle and breaststroke were featured in multiple heats.
The Garrett native remembers learning to swim in a pool that dated to the 1930s. The Army took her to Fort Bragg and Germany, but she returned with her family to the area, she said.
She wound up competing in a triathlon, which surprised her. She thought she'd only compete in swimming, but with training, she ended up biking and running, too.
“After my stroke, my balance is shot,” she explained.
Garzon expects Turnstone will host Endeavor Games next year, too.
“The Games are a great opportunity for people with physical disabilities to try new sports and compete on the path to a Paralympics Dream,” he said.