Bleeding pink: Swimmers show support for Terri Hermes in fight against cancer
Terri Hermes has given a lot to the Grand Junction swim community.
Hermes, 49, is the head coach for several age groups of the Grand Junctions Dolphins Swim Club as well as organizing the Dolphins’ swim schools.
But for as involved as she is, Hermes hasn’t been around as much as she’d like to during this weekend’s Dolphin Invitational at El Pomar Natatorium.
The Dolphins have found their own way to represent her.
Hermes has been fighting breast cancer since last September, and this weekend, many of the swimmers have been wearing pink T-shirts that read, “I bleed pink.”
“We wanted to recognize her fight against this ailment,” Grand Junction Dolphins head coach Dale Leonhart said. “She’s a tough lady and a tough person and is doing quite well, given the adversity of her health situation.”
All things considered, Hermes is swimming laps around the cancer.
She recently completed her fourth of six chemotherapy treatments and hopes by September to be on her way to remission.
Hermes said she was unaware of the pink shirts before arriving to Friday’s first day of the meet.
“It was a little overwhelming,” Hermes said. “The toughest part was when I had to tell the kids before I started chemo, and they’ve been awesome. To have something like (the shirts) was like ‘wow.’ “
Hermes has spent most of her life in the water. She’s been teaching swimming lessons since she was 11 years old and has been coaching since she was 17.
Hermes said her time in swimming has developed a lifelong swimmer’s mentality that’s helped her fight her cancer.
“When you go from wall to wall you have to be mentally tough,” Hermes said. “Then coaching kids, I always had to figure out ways when they didn’t feel well to talk them through it, and that’s how I have to do it with this. Years of doing that for others made it easier to do it for myself.”
Throughout her fight with cancer, Hermes said, she has gotten peace from being able to go to the pool.
“I was able to get in a couple of times and it was calming,” Hermes said. “It was humbling because I’m a lot slower than what I used to be, but the whole feel of the water was zen.”
Hermes said several times how great the young swimmers have been throughout her whole process. Hermes works mostly with swimmers ages 12 and younger, and said one of her best days was getting to partake in one of her favorite traditions.
“After practice the kids always like to give me wet hugs,” Hermes said. “When I had my surgery (in January) I had to tell them they couldn’t hug me, and after a while they’d keep asking me if they could. As soon as they could give me a wet hug, they’d all run to do it.”
Many of the swimmers Hermes coaches were in the pool Saturday. Kathern McConnell, 12, qualified for the Colorado Swimming Long Course State Championships in July by swimming the 50-meter backstroke in 38.52 seconds.
Sam Jordan, 12, qualified with his 40.09 in the boys 50-meter backstroke.
“We had some really good swims,” Leonhart said. “We’ve been racing really well, so I’m pleased.”
The Dolphins’ Carlos Matthews won the age 13-14 200 butterfly in 2:28.99, and won the 100 freestyle in 1:01.46.
Taylor Kidd finished second in the girls 13-14 200 butterfly in 2:56.18.
“We’ve done pretty well,” Leonhart said. “I hope we continue to swim fast. We are right in the thick of it.”
The Montrose Marlins lead the team standings with 1,470.50 points. Falfins Swimming of Colorado Springs is in second with 1,449.50, and the Dolphins are third with 1,412.50.
The finals begin today at 5 p.m.