Swimming has been part of Carol Shadrake’s life since her earliest memories. When she was three years old, Carol remembers her mother taking her to swim for the first time in Lakewood. Years later, a new Recreation Center was built in North Olmsted, and Carol’s mother, now living in the city, became a regular at the pool.
“The Rec Center has been in my life all my life because my mother swam here when it first opened,” says Carol. “When I was teaching I used to try to come up and swim, but it’s very hard when you’re working to have a regular regimen.”
Carol and her husband, Dick, first moved to North Olmsted in 1965 and went on to raise a family of five children. Carol taught music at many different schools in the community.
“I first started teaching at St. Richard’s when the kids were little,” says Carol. “When they got old enough to go to middle school, I started teaching at the public school.” The rest of her teaching career was with the North Olmsted City Schools. “The first school I taught at was Maple, and then Spruce and Forest. I was all over.”
Carol was passionate about introducing her young students to a lifelong love of music. “If along the way, they learn to read music and learn the theory, that’s fine… but in elementary school, I really felt our job was to teach them about all different kinds of music and to enjoy it.”
When she retired in 1993, Carol followed her mother’s example and started coming to the Recreation Center regularly, on a mission to become more fit. “When I retired, I started to swim every day. I still go every day.” Carol’s approach was very successful, helping her to lose weight and expand her physical abilities.
In her 80s, Carol’s interests expanded to include the GetFit! program, a 45-minute fitness class open to all seniors. “I really got hooked! I am addicted to those land programs.” Carol continues to enjoy fitness classes and swimming, while her husband plays tennis at the Rec Center. Now approaching 90, Carol credits the Recreation Center with keeping her and Dick active and healthy. “I firmly believe that if it had not been for the programs here, both of us would likely not be here.”
Carol heaped praise on the staff of the Recreation Center. “I’m very happy here,” says Carol. “The thing that’s different about North Olmsted Rec Center from every other rec center I’ve ever been in is the people here.” Carol says employees go out of their way to be helpful to patrons, even oiling the wheels of her squeaky walker in one instance. “The staff is universally wonderful.”
Carol’s advice for the next generation is to focus on two things, keeping active and saving for the future. Healthy habits include daily exercise. “The key is to do this every single day. All the other stuff you do is not as important.”
Learn more about senior fitness programs at the Recreation Center here.