Swimming Back to Herself
Water heals and inspires after a traumatic brain injury
Cindy Januszewski is 44 and a proud member of Florida Maverick Masters. During the warmer months, when she is not swimming or taking care of her family, she teaches water fitness at Whispering Pines where Florida Maverick Masters members work out. During the winter months, she practices at Bella Vida in Citrus Hills. She swims for fitness and fun and because she loves swimming; she also finds time and energy to compete. Januszewski enjoys socializing with her team and is planning to attend the Florida LMSC awards banquet after an upcoming meet, even though she modestly says she won’t be winning anything.
Sounds like an average Masters member, right? Well things might not have turned out so wonderfully normal for Januszewski if her mother hadn’t urged her back into the pool after a car accident left her with a traumatic brain injury in 1983. A settlement from the car accident helped, but swimming was what made her whole again.
“I was swimming competitively when my accident happened,” Januszewski says. She was living in California at the time and was a passenger in a car her friend was driving when another vehicle t-boned her. “I was 17 years old then and on the varsity swim team when our little car was struck by a van,” Januszewski explains. She spent one and a half months in the hospital before being transferred to a rehabilitation facility. From that facility, she was able to be released for weekend visits home. On her first one, her mother drove her straight to the pool.
“At the time, I couldn’t walk, but I could swim,” Januszewski remembers. “I wasn’t very fast though.” But she has been swimming consistently since then and has picked up some of her old speed. Januszewski credits her mother’s determination with helping her heal and bringing her back to the water.
On January 29th, Januszewski did the postal swim, completing 3625 yards in the 60 minute mental and physical endurance test. Januszewski recounts other recent highlights of her swimming career and explains how she approaches races: “I went to Worlds in 2006 in Stanford [Calif.] I also received first place at the Clearwater Ocean Mile Swim." She recently competed in a meet in Clearwater, Fla., and swam a full complement of events. "While standing on the starter’s box before competition I review to myself which event I am doing and how far to go. I also say a quick prayer to do my best,” she shares.
She is currently the youngest person on her team and loves swimming with the older members, saying “they are nice and they break records!”
Asked why she approached U.S. Masters Swimming with her story, Januszewski said: “I just want to tell the world how swimming is so awesome. And if anyone knows anyone who has been through the same kind of trauma, put them in the water.”