CNN - Retried teacher Vivian Stancil says swimming was taboo for a women of color when she was young.
"At the age of 19 I was told that I had retinitis pigmentosis," the blind woman said.
She said at the age of 50 she was depressed and did not have any motivation. She had high blood pressue and diabetes, and weighed 319 pounds.
"A doctor told me I was going to die," said Stancil, "so I start swimming."
At first she was petrified, she said. Then she asked her coach if she could do it again. She lost over 100 pounds. Her health has improved greatly.
Stencil has won more than 275 medals for her swimming. They were local and state competitions, and includes medals from the Senior Olympic Games.
Her coach said it is incredible for anyone to start swimming at 50.
Stancil said her hope is to give every child in the Riverside area confidence that they can learn too.
It is never too late to learn new life-impacting skills, said the former teacher.