Tom Miazga at the medal ceremony of the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
While Tom Miazga has not swam competitively in five years, he believes his future in Para swimming could be filled with new personal bests.
That is, if he wanted to swim.
Miazga competed at the Paralympic Games Beijing 2008, and he has a handful of championship medals in the sport. His last meet was the 2015 national championships. He was considering making a run for the 2016 Rio Games, but he said he couldn’t do that and teach at the same time. Plus, the Games were scheduled for the first month he was supposed to teach.
So, he retired from swimming.
“Realistically, I decided that swimming was going to have to take a halt, just because the pragmatics of the real world caught up with me,” he said. “I felt at peace with my accomplishments, and I was highly satisfied with my career as it was.”
His competitive edge did not slow down.
Eight or nine months after stepping away from swimming, Miazga accepted a non-teaching job, and he decided to pursue Adaptive CrossFit. Adaptive CrossFit is governed by WheelWOD (short for “Workout Of the Day”). It takes able-bodied CrossFit events, and modifies them for disabled people.
WheelWOD offers different categories — Seated 1 and Seated 2 — to accommodate varying disabilities, similar to the classification system in Para swimming. Miazga can get out of his chair and walk, which places him in the Seated 2 category.
“It’s done a tremendous job of being able to feel as though everyone has a place and opportunity to work out and be their better selves,” Miazga said.
Athletes do a series of exercises each week, and videotape and share their results. As they advance in tournaments, the number of exercises the athletes do each week increases. The championship — the WheelWOD Games — requires a demanding 13 events over four days.
“It covers everything you can possibly think of,” Miazga said, noting they have done full triathlons, heavy lifting and “complex” gymnastic movements.