When it comes to dynamic stories about Senior Games athletes who overcome challenges and find a healthy lifestyle through sport, swimmer Vivian Stancil always comes to mind. Now 75, Vivian was blinded by a congenital disease as a 19-year-old single mother of two, but fought her way out of poverty to become a successful school teacher. However, she became morbidly obese and chose swimming as her means to lose over 100 pounds and regain her health. Read her 2014 Personal Best Feature for more.
Vivian loves Senior Games, and the love is returned with ovations when she enters or leaves the swim venue. She has been featured by numerous regional and national media outlets and has inspired many to get into the game.
At the 2022 Games, her story attracted the attention of Katie Couric Media and they have brought a video crew to prepare the feature. With help from our Presenting Sponsor Humana, 1984 Olympic Swimming Gold Medalist Theresa Andrews, now an Associate VP of Humana’s Neighborhood Centers, was brought in by our Presenting Sponsor to “coach” Vivian on practice day at the Plantation Aquatics Complex.
When the two met Thursday, Theresa presented a surprise gift of an embroidered Olympic logo jacket. But then she shocked Vivian by pulling out one of her 1984 gold medals for the swimmer to wear. “This is so exciting, I’m so grateful!” Vivian exclaimed.
For an amateur athlete to be able to wear an Olympic gold medal once is a chance of a lifetime. But Vivian felt some deja vu because this has happened once before. In 2014, NSGA made a presentation to her at the California Senior Games athlete dinner and attracted swimming legend John Naber, who dominated the 1976 Olympics with five medals, to come pay tribute. At the end of his remarks, he also surprised everyone by hanging one of his golds around her neck.
Vivian appreciated the tips Theresa Andrews shared during their practice, and the Olympian expressed mutual admiration. “It’s so amazing what she has accomplished, “ she said. “Vivian is so inspiring for all of us.”