London’s Hometown Heroes: Rebecca Meyers
Rebecca (Becca) Meyers returned from London to her hometown of Baltimore with two swimming medals from the 2012 Paralympic Games. The 17-year-old was honored at a school assembly at her high school, Notre Dame Preparatory School, and she enjoyed not one, but two standing ovations.
Meyers, who trains with coach Keith Schertle at Loyola Blakefield Aquatics, earned the silver medal in the 200-meter individual medley and the bronze medal in the 100 free. In the 200 IM, Meyers was runner-up to Canada’s Valerie Grand-Maison, who finished in a world record time of 2:27.64. Meyers was 2.49 seconds behind at 2:30.13. In the 100, Meyers shared the medal podium with fellow American Kelley Becherer, who won the gold (59.56). Meyers was third (1:01.90). She also placed fifth in the 50 free and competed in the 100 breaststroke but did not make the final.
Born profoundly deaf and diagnosed with Usher syndrome, a genetic disorder which usually results in vision loss, Meyers competed in the S13 class for visually impaired athletes in London. Previously, she competed in the Deaflympics, where she earned a bronze medal in 2009, and earned four gold medals at the 2011 World Swimming Championships in Portugal.
TeamUSA.org caught up with this Paralympian who is trying to return to some semblance of normalcy as a high school senior.
TeamUSA.org: What were your overall impressions of your first Paralympic Games in London?
Meyers: It was truly amazing. Every day, the swimming venue was sold out, which was great! All of the volunteers were fantastic. They were always there if we needed help with anything. The services were outstanding, especially the food.
TeamUSA.org: Did your family travel with you to London?
Meyers: Yes, both of my parents (father, Wade Mark, and mother, Maria Dachille) came to London.
TeamUSA.org: Did you and your family get much of a chance to do any touristy traveling in London and was this your first time in the city?
Meyers: On the (day of the Closing Ceremony), the entire swim team got to go see London. We went to the Eye, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I had been to London two times before, but when I was 4 and 5.
TeamUSA.org: Obviously, your main focus was in the pool. You said your goal was to win one medal at the Paralympic Games and you came home with two. Tell us about your two medal races.
Meyers: I felt great and confident in all of my races. I was going for all the best times, which I did in three of the four races.
The 100 free bronze medal was a total surprise to me. The last 25 meters, I just put my head down and kicked and did not breathe at all. It was great being able to be on the medal podium with my teammate, Kelley Becherer, representing the United States of America.
The 200 IM was a bit more challenging because this was my race, and I wanted to medal as well as get my best time and I would end up doing both! I gave it my all in the 200 IM. It took me a couple of hours to finally get my breath back after the race.
TeamUSA.org: How has your return home been? Were there any special celebrations?
Meyers: My school had an assembly for me. They showed my 200 IM race and award ceremony to the entire school. My class made a poster for me with ‘Congrats Becca’ on it and a picture of me receiving my bronze medal and everyone signed it.
TeamUSA.org: You also got to go to Washington, D.C., with fellow Team USA Olympians and Paralympians and meet the President of the United States. Not many 17-year-olds get an opportunity to do that.
Meyers: It was an honor to be able to visit the White House and have President Barack Obama give a speech to Team USA. I got to shake hands with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. And First Lady Michelle Obama gave me a hug, congratulating me.
TeamUSA.org: Did you get a chance to interact much with athletes from other countries?
Meyers: I got to make friends from other countries, and I did get into the pin trading, and it was a lot of fun! I got some really cool pins.
TeamUSA.org: You are a high school senior. What are your plans for the future? College swimming? Perhaps the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympic Games?
Meyers: I would love to swim Division I in college. My top choice is Loyola University Maryland. I think I want to major in communications and become a motivational speaker. I would love to go to Rio in 2016. Next summer, I will (hopefully) be swimming in Bulgaria for the 2013 Deaflympics. My future goal for swimming is to have fun with it and see where it will take me next.
This story was edited for clarity. Amy Rosewater is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.