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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Let’s all be Zombies!

Calling someone a “zombie” may become the newest slang accolade. At least, I think it should be. Yesterday I heard about a group of kids who call themselves “The Zombies.” They’ve done something amazing, through courage and team work. The Zombies are a group of fourteen teens who go to Arch Academy in San Diego and train as a team for difficult swim challenges. Their name comes from an inside joke about how waking up at 4am to swim turns them into zombies each morning.

In June the Zombies swam the English Channel in thirteen hours. Yesterday each member of the team was presented with a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award by Congressman Scott Peters, signed by President Obama.

What’s especially impressive and meaningful is that these kids have special needs and have had to work especially hard to achieve their goal. Team captain Diana Linney talked to San Diego news teams, smiling as she recalled that the Zombies came in first out of nine teams attempting the swim. The team didn’t listen to those who said it couldn’t be done, and trained hard during pre-dawn swims in the cold waters of La Jolla.

Swimming the English Channel was a 21-mile journey in water as cold as 55°F in some places (and the swimmers did not use wetsuits or fins). Each swimmer swam an hour, some enduring windy conditions, significant swells and white caps. The route took a curvy path, as opposed to a direct line across the channel, due to tidal movement.

I’m inspired by this tenacious group of young people. It’s rare for me to watch the news on tv, so catching this segment yesterday was pure luck. For me, it feels like a gift to have learned about these teens and their bravery. Young people often are told to listen to their elders, to learn from older people with more experience. But moments like these remind me that you don’t have to be a certain age to have something valuable to share with others. This group’s spirit is reminding me not to be afraid of daunting odds but to give new challenges a try.

Zombies, consider me the newest member of your fan club.


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