Stratford resident Margaret K. Wachs marked her 100th birthday on Sept. 20 by swimming 20 lengths of the Milford YMCA pool and raising thousands of dollars for her Stratford Methodist Church in the process.
Family, friends, the media, and various members of the Y lined the pool deck and cheered Wachs on as she completed her goal of the 500-yard swim.
“I got back into swimming around the age of 90 for my health,” Wachs said, adding that she was around lakes in Vermont often as a younger woman.
Clear of mind, Wachs said she has bad feet and a bad knee so swimming is a good way for her to exercise. “And it is good therapy for my shoulder.”
Wachs said she has seen groups of people raising money with swimming and other activities over the years, “so I approached the church and they said it is a great idea.”
Three days after the swim Wachs had raised $2,000, but projections for all pledges was approaching $6,000.
“I am glad if it’s helping others,” said the centenarian. “Others are coming up to me saying they are going to start [swimming]. If I am helping others, that is all I care about.”
“Nobody in my family has had dementia,” Wachs said. “My sister lived to 95. My brother to over 100. My mother to 95.”
“I eat lots of fruits and vegetables,” she said, and sweets, pies and cakes very rarely.
Wachs’ daughter Bonnie Huey of Orange said her mother “is always doing things for other people. She does a lot for her church.”
Besides that, Wachs had 75 years of marriage.
Four generations of Wachs’ family were at the pool for the event, including granddaughter Amy Weintraub, who described her grandmother Margaret as “just amazing.”
“Swimming is just a testimony to her dedication and spirit,” Weintraub said. “She never gives up. She is so tough. I am going to hope to grow old not just gracefully but with spunk.”
Wachs’ great-granddaughter Natalie, age 6, was asked for one word to describe her great-grandmother Margaret, and she answered, “Love.”