Rochester woman to turn shots into strokes
She says she was born to swim, and on July 24, Cathy Nagler, of Rochester, will realize her birthright. It's then that Nagler will enter Lake Michigan, near her childhood home of Mount Pleasant, Mich., for a 10-mile...
She says she was born to swim, and on July 24, Cathy Nagler, of Rochester, will realize her birthright.
It's then that Nagler will enter Lake Michigan, near her childhood home of Mount Pleasant, Mich., for a 10-mile swim along the west side of Mackinac Bridge .
For the 51-year-old single mother of two, who has battled Type 1 diabetes since childhood, it will be easily her biggest athletic challenge, particularly if wind, cold and waves from a practically ocean-sized body of water factor in.
Yet, she's certain she'll complete it.
"What can I say — I guess I'm part fish," said Nagler, a 15-year Rochester resident. She has trained for six months in city pools at Soldiers Field and the Rochester Recreation Center, as well as in the pool at Mayo Clinic's Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center.
In addition, she has worked the open water at Chester Woods.
In all, she has logged 30 miles in a pool or pond each week and has regularly clocked miles in 26 minutes or less.
Her illness adds purpose to the effort. She is conducting a fundraising pledge campaign to raise money for diabetes research at Mayo Clinic. (Some of the funds raised also will go to Black Sheep Crossing , a nonprofit animal sanctuary on the Leelanau peninsula, north of Northport, Mich.)
"I was a diabetic at age 5, started taking shots then, and, thanks to my father, learned how to eat and exercise properly, then started swimming the next year," Nagler said. "It's what I've done ever since."
Along with closely monitoring insulin levels, Nagler takes shots five times daily using three different types of insulin to ensure proper blood-sugar levels.
Nagler will continue her regimen even during her marathon effort, with support from a doctor, friends and family in a kayak in front of her and a sailboat just behind. The doctor will dispense medicine as needed.
"I'll be listening to the sailor/doctor all along, so I don't see that as a big problem," she said. "But we will start at 4:30 (a.m.), so it will be dark, which can present its own challenges. We'd like to lose the barges and have as few pleasure boats around as possible."
The Coast Guard will help keep a swimming lane free.
"Just to have them be aware of me and what I'm doing out there is all I'm asking," Nagler said.
Earlier, Nagler never could have envisioned taking on this much. For her, there were no competitive swim teams available as a youth, but she did letter in track in high school before turning to biking, some recreational swimming, rock-climbing, soccer and Nordic skating as a young adult.
She also had the time and energy to become a registered nurse, have children and move out of the country. She spent five years in England, three as part of editing and writing for the Director's Guild of Great Britain periodical "Direct Extra."
Today, she teaches classes for special needs children in the Rochester public schools.
"I probably have had to say this a lot, and I do believe it, but you can either let diabetes run your life, or you can control it so you can run yours," Nagler said.