LONDON ―Last month, 15-year-old Paralympic swimmer Ian Silverman (Baltimore, Md.), one of the sports up and coming young stars, lost everything when his best friend Alec Cosgerea unexpectedly passed away in a car accident.
In a single instant he lost his best friend, his classmate, his swim partner, his whole world.
“I knew him since I was very young…he meant everything to me,” said Silverman. “It was a tragic, sudden loss. It just really shook my world.”
To make things more complicated, in a few short weeks Silverman would be competing in the biggest meet of his life at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Luckily for Silverman, who has Cerebral Palsy, he was surrounded by a strong support structure made up of his friends, family and coaches, all of whom wanted to see him remain focused and carry out his dream of swimming in a Paralympic final.
Silverman, who trains at the North Baltimore Swim Club, the same club as Michael Phelps, did just that, focusing on his training despite the emotional pain he was feeling during this incredibly difficult time in his life.
That concentration continued once he touched down in London. It came full circle this morning during his preliminary race of the men’s 400 meter freestyle (S10), where he posted a solid time of 4:13.48, which was good enough to land him a spot in tonight’s race.
Once he knew that he was going to be able to live out his dream of competing in a Paralympic final, Sullivan knew he wanted more and immediately turned his focus to winning a medal.
The task would not be easy however, as Sullivan was not only dealing with the pressure of competing in a final, but controlling his emotions as well.
As he stepped onto the blocks tonight he did so with a heavy heart as he was still thinking about Alec, whom he decided to dedicate the race to.
Once in the water, Silverman knew he had a battle on his hands as his race was one of the most hotly contested of these Games.
He started the race well and eventually took the lead near the 200 meter mark. This did not last long, however, as he was overtaken just after the 250 meter mark by Benoit Huot of Canada who had been nipping at his heels the entire race.
Silverman eventually clawed back to take the lead after the turn at the 300 meter mark and never looked back.
Little did anyone know it was a part of his race plan all along.
“I knew I had a shot,” noted Silverman. “My game plan was to take off with 150 (meters) left and I feel like I executed that well.”
Silverman touched the wall not long after that burst, finishing with a time of 4:04.91, a staggering nine seconds better than his qualifying time of 4:13.48, and good enough for a new Paralympic record.
Once his competitors finished and the reality of winning a gold medal had set in a wave of emotion came over Silverman. After yelling and splashing the water around him he was quickly reduced to tears. Those emotions continued on the medal stand as Silverman choked back tears again while singing the National Anthem.
When asked about the race and the medal ceremony, Silverman finally admitted to wanting to perform well for Alec.
“I knew he was watching over me,” said Silverman. “I just hope I made him proud.”
It’s now safe to say he did.