Ruby Sherlund has always remembered being active throughout her life.

The Ahwatukee resident would spend countless hours exercising, and even pursued a career in physical education where she taught high school P.E. in Utah.

However, Sherlund, 81, had complications in her spinal region, and seven years ago underwent an intensive back surgery, rendering her in a wheelchair.

Being in a wheelchair has not stopped this young spirit to stay active, and she’s currently training hard to compete in the 2014 Senior Olympics in Chandler.

Sherlund has been training for the 2014 Senior Olympics for the past two years, with the assistance of her coach and friend, Amy Gonzales.

The two met four years ago when Gonzales was working as a part-time caregiver for Sherlund, and would lend a hand during the weekends.

On one particular day, Sherlund told Gonzales she wanted to swim in her backyard pool to get a bit of exercise, which was the start of her journey to the games.

They decided to join Life Time Fitness because Sherlund’s pool was too small to train in, where Gonzales said Sherlund would be turning around too fast in the pool.

“We started two years ago in her backyard pool. We would heat it in the winter time and be out there rain or shine,” Gonzales said.

Training regiments consist of workouts five times a week at Life Time Fitness in Tempe, where Sherlund trains nearly three hours a day.

Sherlund shows drive and determination with each training session, never wanting to give up and is always trying to improve, Gonzales said.

Sherlund works on two different techniques during her training: some days she works on splits, where she swims 25 yards, and other days she works on her round trips, where she swims 50 yards countless times.

“We warm up just a couple laps back and forth, and then we work on the turns. She’s really good on endurance, so that’s why we can stay in the pool for like two hours,” Gonzales said. “She just swims and swims and swims.”

Considering that the Senior Olympics is two weeks away, Sherlund is working on her time, Gonzales said.

Gonzales will also compete in the games in the freestyle, back stroke and the breast stroke.

Sherlund’s main motivation in participating in the Senior Olympics’ 50-yard back stroke is geared towards proving to herself that despite health compilation, she can still accomplish what she sets her mind on.

She shows heart with each lap completed, and the will to know that quitting is never an option.

“She’s her best coach. I help count the laps and give her some encouragement, but Ruby is her best coach,” Gonzales said. “She never quits and never have we cut a session short.”

In addition to staying active, Sherlund has also lost 75 pounds during the two-year preparation for the Senior Olympics.

The duo is planning to continue to compete in the games, and will be setting their sights on next year’s freestyle competition.

The Senior Olympics will take place at Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center, 5901 S. Hillcrest Drive in Chandler, on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 8 a.m.

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