SANFORD — Three days a week, for an hour each day, you’ll find Ron Miriello swimming laps in the pool at FirstHealth Fitness in Sanford. The 74-year-old Lee County resident joined the FirstHealth fitness facility when it first opened in October 2018 and has since clocked more than 200 miles in the pool.
A former Navy serviceman during the Vietnam War and retired college administrator, Miriello said he developed an affinity for the water after a near-drowning experience as a child.
“I nearly drowned when I was 9 years old,” recalled Miriello. “I got caught in a whirlpool in the Cape Fear River. I was unconscious when the uncle of one of my friends pulled me out of the water.”
As fate would have it, years later, Miriello taught the daughter of the man he credits for saving his life that day how to swim. He has spent many years since swimming competitively, teaching swim lessons and survival swimming, and working in pool management.
“I guess you can say I’m a fish out of water,” Miriello laughed.
And he has plans to continue to swim. “My goal is to swim 200 more miles by the end of 2020,” he said.
According to FirstHealth Fitness-Sanford Facility Director Phillip Williams, Miriello is an inspiration.
“Ron is a true example of determination and strength,” said Williams. “His commitment to health and zest for personal challenge are inspiring not only to other members but to the Fitness staff as well.”
Miriello said he’s proud to be a founding member of FirstHealth Fitness.
“I’m so glad to have joined FirstHealth Fitness and have the opportunity to swim, which I enjoy so much,” he said. “Not only is the facility top-notch, but the staff is tremendous as well.”
For more information about FirstHealth Fitness-Sanford located at 2925 Beechtree Drive in Sanford, visit www.firsthealth.org/fitness or call (919) 258-2100.