One Million Yards: Williamsburg woman battling MS swims to victory

(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

v – WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Betsy Lavin says she's not sick when she's in the pool.

Doctors diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis in 2009. Lavin says the disease has crippled her many times over the last seven years.

In January, the swim coach at the Williamsburg Aquatic Club set a goal to swim one million yards in one year. The distance totals 40,000 laps and 568 miles.

"My son asked my husband if I was going to die… I said, ‘Would I be able to swim one million yards if I were going to die?' He said, ‘I guess not.'"

The far-fetched goal seemed unbelievable even to Lavin in early summer as her condition worsened, but she eventually rebounded much like in the past.

"I got really bad vertigo for a while, wasn't able to drive, only got 20,000 yards in one month," said Lavin.

By September, she realized she could reach the million yard mark. Lavin says she spent many days thereafter in the pool for more than two hours.

"I think she's taking this as an emblematic and symbolic fight; a personal fight against her personal struggle," said Ryan Gregory, Lavin's husband. "It's her making a statement against her disease, and really her mantra this year is ‘never give up' and I think that is never truer than it is today."

Gregory says his wife's physical limitations drive her to achieve her goals through the ups and downs.

"I am certainly surprising my neurologists. He said, ‘I don't know how you are doing so well. Just keep swimming.'"

Lavin says she plans on taking her doctor's advice.

For more information about multiple sclerosis, you can visit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.