I am a legally blind competitive swimmer for Team USA, Dynamo and GeorgiaBlazers.
I was always very near-sighted but in the fall of 2009, I developed severe vision problems. Beginning with detached retinas in both eyes, my vision has continued to deteriorate despite several surgeries and I am now legally blind. My doctors say that I likely will be without any usable vision in the future. I am determined to not allow this diagnosis and disability to stop me from achieving my goals in swimming or life.
With the help of many wonderful coaches, we have made accommodations to help me continue to swim. At meets and practices, I am tapped on the head by a parent or coach in order to know when to expect the wall for flip turns, open turns and finishes. The tapper is a golf ball retriever with a tennis ball attached to the end of it. The golf ball retriever is extended out to tap me one or two strokes from the wall.
At some practices we set up sprinklers at each end of the pool. When I feel the water from the sprinklers, I know that I am approaching the wall. My coaches and I have spent many extra hours in the pool working on adapting my training as my eyesight diminishes.
I am a classified S12 (vision class) paralympic swimmer and I continue to train rigorously with new ambitions every day. Currently, I am the number one S12 swimmer in the nation and in the top 15 internationally. I hold 14 short course American Records for the S12 vision class and recently have been selected to represent the US Paralympic Swim Team at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. I have also been honored to represent Team USA at the 2015 Parapan American Games, held August 7-15 in Toronto, Canada where I earned a bronze medal in the 400 Freestyle. Additionally, the past two summers I have competed on the GA Swimming Zone Team and helped the team to consecutive championship titles.
- Currently holds 14 American Records Short Course Yards (SCY) and 2 long course records (total of 16) for the Paralympic vision class S12.
- Selected as a member of Team USA for the 2015 ParaPan Games.
- Currently the #1 swimmer in the Paralympic vision class S12 for the United States and within the top 15 internationally.
- Currently hold 1 World record in the 1500M Freestyle.
- Currently hold 2 Pan American records.
This is the difference between what you see in the pool (top) and what I see in the pool (bottom).