Wednesday, June 24, 2009

At 90, Everett Nurse Stays In The Swim

It's a Monday morning. Teresa Schmierer is in the pool. A boom box blasts out Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine: ‘Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga.’ Water aerobics instructor Melodie Nelson, who's poolside demonstrating high kicks and arm circles, takes a break to change the music. It's a birthday surprise for Schmierer, a switch from the hard-driving Latin beat. ‘OK Teresa, memory city,’ Nelson says as she changes the CD. The place quiets down. A dozen or so people in the pool hear a dreamy tune from another time. It's the Glenn Miller Orchestra's ‘Moonlight Serenade.’ In 1939, when the song was a hit, Schmierer was 20 years old. On Friday, the Everett woman will celebrate her 90th birthday. Classmates jumped the gun Monday. They brought a big cake decorated with an American flag, and later took Schmierer out for lunch. ‘She is so remarkable, with the best attitude about life,’ said Kim Pontrello, a friend who's been taking water aerobics classes with Schmierer for more than a decade. They keep moving in Nelson's class three mornings a week at 24 Hour Fitness near Silver Lake. Before the health club opened last year, they met for years at a similar club on Everett's Evergreen Way. As the class friendships flourish, age is irrelevant. Schmierer is turning 90. Pontrello and Nelson are middle-aged, and others in class are young enough to be Schmierer's grandchildren. ‘Some people go to exercise classes because they want to look good. I want them to feel good,’ said Nelson. She shared that some in the water aerobics group have survived heart attacks, major surgeries, diabetes and other chronic ailments. ‘When most people start winding down, at 75 years old she started pushing herself to exercise. Over the years, she has been the one person in the pool who is always there,’ said Pontrello, who has pictures of other pool parties, including Schmierer's ‘great at 88’ birthday two years ago.”

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