Aimee Bruder’s Journey To The Paralympics

Aimee's times were fast enough to compete in the national competition.

Aimee’s times were fast enough to compete in the national competition.

Editor’s Note:  37 year old Aimee Bruder has had cerebral palsy all her life. She qualified for her sixth Paralympic Games this year. She attended her first Paralympic Games in 1992. She competes in the freestyle, the breast stroke, the individual medley and the backstroke. She won three bronze medals in the Atlanta Paralympic Games, a silver medal from the Sydney, Australia Paralympic Games and a bronze medal at China. She qualified in North Dakota on June 14th – 16th, 2012, to swim the 50 meter backstroke for her classification. Athletes with cerebral palsy compete according to the amount of function they have. The highest functioning athletes are classified as S10. The athletes with the least amount of physical function are classified as S1. All her classifications were deleted this year, so she has moved up to a higher classification and will be swimming the 100 freestyle, the 200 freestyle, and the 100 breast stroke in the S5 classification. However, she still will be able to swim the backstroke in the S4 classification. Part 3 of a 5 part series.

“I had competed nationally in swimming and had made the cut to be on the Paralympic team,” Bruder explains. “Here’s what happened. My mom had taken me to New York to compete in the national swim meet for my disability class. At that time, there were disabled sports organizations that held state, regional and national competitions for disabled athletes. You joined the organization, just like you join the USA Swimming organization and the USA Track & Field organization.

All the athletes who were members received newsletters. In the newsletter, all the events were posted. So, my parents started taking me to all the swimming events. In those swim meets, I learned I had times fast enough to go to the national competition. Then at the Nationals, I discovered I was swimming fast enough to go to my first Paralympic Games.

After the meet was over, one of the officials said, ‘You swim fast enough to attend the trials for the Paralympic team. The competition for the Paralympic team is being held in the pool next to this one. So, I suggest you go next door and compete for a spot on the Paralympic team.’

I didn’t even know the trials for the Paralympic team were being held at the same venue as the trials for the National Swim Team. The officials wrote me a letter after the meet and explained that I was close to qualifying for the Paralympic team, if I could shave a few seconds off my time.”

Aimee worked extremely hard to become stronger and faster.

Aimee worked extremely hard to become stronger and faster. Photo source.

While her high school friends were enjoying summer vacation and getting suntans by the pool, one of Aimee Bruder’s swim team members and Bruder would go to the high school swimming pool, where one of the coaches had given up his summer to help them train. “When I got my times down enough to compete in the Paralympic Games, I packed my bags and headed to Barcelona, Spain for my first Paralympic Games, the ones held in 1992,” Bruder recalls. “By the time I got to the Games, I just had turned 18 and was old enough to go. I trained hard and got my times down fast enough to be a part of those games.”

When Aimee Bruder arrived in Barcelona at the age of 18, she was overwhelmed by the number of people there. In her first Paralympic Games she finished 4th in the world, even though she didn’t get into the finals of the two events in which she swam. “But I finished 4th in one of my swims. I was so excited you would have thought that I had won; my dad was excited also. I was hooked on being an Olympian.” Aimee Bruder had taken her love of swimming into the world of competition swimming at age 16, and then just after her eighteenth birthday she had attended the Paralympic Games in Barcelona and placed 4th in the world. That fourth place finish created the addiction to work hard enough to get to every Paralympic Games since the first one she attended.

Next: Aimee Bruder Begins Training To Compete In The Paralympics

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at

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