Dubuque Retirement Home Holds Underwater Marathon

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Stonehill Franciscan Services in Dubuque is celebrating an $11 million expansion project. That includes a Hydroworx pool, where athletes spent Tuesday participating in an underwater relay marathon.

When Stonehill Resident Helen Meester steps into a pool, she's instantly reminded of the good old days.

Meester said, "for years, every winter I spent in Arizona. And three houses from my apartment was the pool. So I was in it everyday."

But on this cold winter day, she's 1600 miles from the playground of her past. Instead she's walking the first leg of Stonehill's underwater relay marathon.

Stonehill Physical Therapist Rachel McDermott said, "people who haven't been able to walk, who are in wheel chairs, and feel it's just too painful to walk, you put them in the pool and they can walk for 5 to 10 minutes. "

The floor of the exercise pool lifts and lowers so users don't have to go up or down steps. Using an underwater camera, therapists keep an eye on the runner's and walker's legs.

McDermott said, "you can put a wheel chair on to the pool. You can put patients in it. "

During the celebratory race, local marathon runners and Stonehill employees took turns knocking out a few miles.

Still, Meester is the queen of this pool.

"It just makes you feel alive," said Meester.
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