18 August 2008

Paralympic Swimmer Calls Birmingham Home

Thirty-four-year-old Aimee Bruder has competed in Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens. Now she’s on her way to Beijing, to represent the U.S. in four different events. She’s a highly decorated swimmer who’s looking to add to her medal collection.

She may be only 4’10” and she may suffer from cerebral palsy, but Aimee Bruder is a powerful figure in the world of Paralympic swimming. Her motto is “small but mighty” and she lives it out loud everyday.

“My parents didn’t raise me to be any different than my siblings. They taught me to be self-sufficient and try things,” Bruder said.

So as a child, when Bruder watched her brother jump into the pool and learn to swim, she naturally followed. She’s been swimming ever since.

“It’s something I can do with my family. I like that. I like the fact it’s something our family shares as a bond,” Bruder said.

Bruder is a college graduate who works 40 hours a week at the Lakeshore Foundation and trains for several hours a day: swimming, weight training, practicing yoga. It’s prepared more than just her body.

“Swimming has helped me build my strength emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually,” she said.

In Bruder’s spare time, she works with physically disabled children through the Paralympic academy program. She wants to pass onto them, the lessons, the gifts that other athletes have given her.

“They don’t sit back and go ‘oh, poor you. You’ve got a disability. Let’s take care of you.’ They just look at me as Aimee, purely just Aimee,” Bruder said.

Just Aimee already has 13 medals to her name and she’s looking for more.

Aimee calls Birmingham home now but she’s originally from Cincinnati. When she’s back visiting family, Aimee likes to cross train with sled hockey.

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