Meet Richard Baldwin, one of the Lee’s Summit R-7 Aquatic Center’s most loyal patrons
The way Richard Baldwin tells it, the 67-year-old Lee’s Summit resident never really stopped swimming after he started the sport as an 8-year-old growing up in Bartlesville, Ok.
Yes, there were those few years after college that the former Oklahoma State University swimmer burned out and joined a softball league. But for most of his adult life, Mr. Baldwin has sought out a chlorine pool as a way to keep fit.
More than a decade ago, his go-to activity became more than that.
It was swimming that prompted his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis — his arms and legs had stopped working in sync at practice. And it was swimming that ultimately staved off some symptoms of the progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement.
Don’t stop, his doctor told him. Mr. Baldwin didn’t, and still doesn’t, plan on it.
“I know swimming has prevented me from dropping off more than I have,” he says.
Before the completion of the aquatic center, Mr. Baldwin found himself fighting for lanes at YMCA pools or driving long distances to find facilities.
But since the Lee’s Summit R-7 Aquatic Center opened in 2009, he has found himself one of the pool’s most loyal patrons, a familiar face to both staffers and swimmers.
Every week day he pulls up to the Aquatic Center around 8 a.m., and swims 1,000-1,500 yards with training partner Dave Noble, 75.
“When I think about the role the Aquatic Center plays for our students and community, the first thing that comes to my mind is our mission, ‘Changing Lives Through Aquatics,’” Aquatics Director Kwasi Pryor said. “I believe our facility is a valuable resource, providing life-changing experiences for our students and community members on many different levels.”
Mr. Baldwin says it’s a community asset that he cherishes.
“It’s the nicest facility for miles and miles,” Mr. Baldwin said recently. “To have it near my house…it’s been a blessing for me. I can’t say that enough.”
Want more information about the LSR7 Aquatic Center? Visit https://aq.lsr7.org/.