By David Fleet
Peggy Williams will be the first to admit that exercise and her do not mix.
“It was like water and oil, it was just not going to happen,” said Williams, 56, a Brandon Township resident. “I was all about the sugar and fast food.”
That was before William’s friend and neighbor Kathy Thurman suggested some changes.
“She encouraged me to get outside, get in shape and exercise with her—then enter the Senior Olympics,” she said. “I had no expectations other than surviving.”
Founded in 1979, Michigan Senior Olympics is open to those individuals 50 years and older. The summer games include 27 competitive sports from track to swimming to softball. The 16 sport winter games feature hockey, cross country skiing and volleyball. From Aug. 9-18 more than 1,000 individuals participated in events at a variety of Oakland County venues including Oakland University.
“We started jogging and talking up the 2019 Senior Olympics,” said Thurman, Brandon township supervisor and former college athlete. “And Peggy owns a swimming pool so that would fit into a great place to practice.”
So in May the pair started a program for fitness that ended up in the Brandon Aquatics Center at Brandon High School. That’s where they met Ryne Droglmuller, head site coach.
“I started with the swimming basics,” said Williams. “Ryne had the patience to teach me. Starting out I really had no idea what to do. At one point I had to decide do I want to swim or do I want to breathe.”
The pair completed five swimming lessons with the Aqua Club program.
“The staff was very supportive when we came to practice,” said Thurman.
“If more people in this community knew what we have at our finger tips at the Brandon swimming pool the place would be packed.”
With the expert training of the Aqua Club team along with plenty of determination Thurman and Williams brought home plenty of hardware from the recent Senior Olympics.
Williams won a gold medal in the 50 meter backstroke, silver medals in the 50 meter freestyle and 100 meter individual medley.
Thurman won a gold medal in the 50 meter backstroke; Sliver medals in the 50 meter breaststroke, 100 meter backstroke and 100 meter individual medley and bronze in the 50 meter freestyle. In track and field Thurman also won gold medals in the high jump, javelin and discus in addition to a sliver medal in the shot put.
“It’s not about the competition as much it’s getting fit and in shape,” said Thurman, in her fourth Senior Olympics. “We are all extremely supportive of each other at the games.”
Thurman dedicated her participation in the 2019 Michigan Senior Olympics to her mother who competed for several years in volleyball.
“And long time local Brandon Township resident Alice Churchill who for many years competed in the Senior Olympics, she said. “Both did Michigan and National Senior Olympics.”