Mallory Weggemann looks on after the Women's 100m Butterfly - S8 on day 2 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on September 9, 2016.
Here’s a look at what’s been going on in the world of Para swimming for the last two weeks in the news and on social media…
Social Media Roundup
It seems like all of social media has been joining in on sharing how it started and how it’s going, whoever they are and whatever “it” is. Paralympic gold medalist Mallory Weggemann was no different, posting on Oct. 22 a photo of herself as a toddler making her first foray into the pool, setting the stage for the legendary career that was to come.
But as Weggemann’s post went on to say, not everybody’s journey is as binary as starting at one place and ending at another. Weggemann also posted photos that showed how her swimming career began, only to have it change forever after her paralysis, to then become a Para swimming world champion, to recently, when Weggemann shared a health scare that landed her in the hospital.
“Social media can feel defeating at times, as if you look to images that depict everyone living out their best life — free of heartbreak, challenges and setbacks — making those moments feel even more isolating when you find yourself in the midst of them,” Weggemann wrote. “But let me tell you, we all have an in between. … Wherever you find yourself in your version of ‘how it is going’ just know that you have made it this far.”
How it started ➡️ How it went ➡️ How it continued ➡️ How it changed ➡️ How it was going ➡️ How it is going. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We have all seen our feeds filled with images showing how it started vs how it is going, but I have learned over years the power in appreciating the journey so here is my extended version. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ That squinty eyed toddler who was just learning to get her face wet, transitioned into a young girl who followed in her sisters footsteps and became a swimmer only to realize in high school that swimming was about so much more than the act, it became my sanctuary. It was then that I fell in love with the sport in ways that would later bring me back to life following my paralysis. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Through it all I not only found myself, but my deeper purpose. While the photo of how it was going was captured moments after claiming my 14th world championship title, it is also a photo of a woman who after years of darkness returned to the light. And as of Monday, my how it is going changed as I was admitted to the hospital, facing an unforeseen scare that threw me into a tailspin as I was left thinking of everything that was in jeopardy. Fortunately, I am home and beyond grateful for my health. And while in those moments I prefer privacy, right now it is my reality and I am choosing to share it as a reminder that we all have bumps long the way. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Social media can feel defeating at times, as if you look to images that depict everyone living out their best life - free of heartbreak, challenges and setbacks - making those moments feel even more isolating when you find yourself in the midst of them. But let me tell you, we all have an in between. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Wherever you find yourself in your version of “how it is going” just know that you have made it this far. You have survived every battle you have faced to get to this moment - whether you feel you are at the top of the mountain or in the depths of the valley looking to make your climb back up, remember you are strong enough navigate your way through and your “what is to become” isn’t defined by your “how it’s going” #howitstartedvshowitsgoing
Paralympic medalist Sophia Herzog also joined in with how it started/how it’s going. The size of Herzog’s medal — and presumably, the content of precious metals therein — changed quite a bit from the photo of Herzog as a young girl to that of her holding her silver medal from the Paralympic Games Rio 2016.
And in another post, Herzog spoke on a subject close to her heart. Herzog posted in recognition of National Dwarfism Awareness Day on Oct. 25. Herzog wrote about her own experience living with dwarfism, the challenges but also the rewards.
“I was aware my disABILITY brought me into a whole group of people that were/are going through the exact same thing,” Herzog wrote. “I was aware I would meet some of my lifelong best friends through this organization of Little People of America (LPA) I would also learn how to navigate and adapt the world to fit me better through them. I was aware my dwarfism also qualified me to be eligible for the Paralympics and I pursued that dream and it was one of the best decisions of my life.”
💚Today is National Dwarfism Awareness Day💚 I was 1 in 26,000 with my of my parents being average height. I grew up in a town of 500 people and I was the first one to go through my schools district with a physical disability. I initially and automatically stood out. Ive only known what it’s like to go into a public space and automatically be conscious that people are watching. I know what its like to go into a grocery store with a list of items and walk out with half because no one was in the isle to ask for help or I was just too self-conscious that day to ask for help or literally forgot my stool in the car🤷🏻♀️ I’m also aware any little girl under the age of 10 thinks I’m there best friend and I can still be incredibly awkward even at 23. My mom told me growing up I was going to have to work at least 10x harder than all my classmates just to prove myself. I became very aware of that very quickly. I was told growing up I wouldn’t be able to ride a horse safely, so I got myself a custom made saddle and a horse and barrel raced through middle school. I was very aware through high school I was “the outsider” I was different and high schoolers can be cruel. I was bullied in the form of isolation and you can’t be more aware your different than days go by and no one acknowledges you at school. I was also aware I was benched my whole sophomore year basketball season solely because of my size. I was also very aware of the positives. I was aware my disABILITY brought me into a whole group of people that were/are going through the exact same thing. I was aware I would meet some of my lifelong best friends through this organization of Little People of America (LPA) I would also learn how to navigate and adapt the world to fit me better through them. I was aware my dwarfism also qualified me to be eligible for the Paralympics and I pursued that dream and it was one of the best decisions of my life. Here are some fun facts so YOU are aware. Be aware we are all humans navigating a world that really wasn’t built for us. Be aware we are: doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers. Be aware we are just like you just a little smaller. 📸 @aaronandersonvisuals
On Oct. 13, Team USA launched its Olympians Made Here and Paralympians Made Here campaigns. These campaigns seek to highlight the impact that collegiate athletics have made on Olympians and Paralympians and how college sports got them to the Games. Some Para swimmers joined the campaign to share their experiences, including Hannah Aspden and McKenzie Coan.
After becoming a Paralympian at age 16, I knew that choosing the right university would be an important part of helping me continue my pursuit of academic and athletic success. Thank you to @queensuniv for being that place - I wouldn’t be who I am today without you! Thank you for striving for excellence both in and out of the classroom, for helping me become a more confident leader, and for giving me memories that will last a lifetime. And a huge thank you to @queensathletics for supporting the Paralympic movement and my dream to continue representing our great country! 🏊♀️🇺🇸 #ParalympiansMadeHere #TeamUSA #RoyalsPride
“After becoming a Paralympian at age 16, I knew that choosing the right university would be an important part of helping me continue my pursuit of academic and athletic success,” said Aspden, who attends Queens University of Charlotte. “Thank you to @queensuniv for being that place — I wouldn’t be who I am today without you!”
Coan, who attended Loyola Maryland, echoed the same sentiment.
“Thank you for helping me become a leader both in and out of the pool, a hard-working student, and U.S. Paralympian,” said Coan, adding the hashtag #GoHounds.
In the News
TeamUSA.org has been taking a look back at the 20th anniversary of the Paralympic Games Sydney 2000, which began on Oct. 18, 2000, and closed on Oct. 29. The Games were a significant milestone for the Paralympic Movement, showcasing Para athletics to a huge global audience and paving the way for the growth that’s happened since. Featured Monday was Trischa Zorn, the most decorated Paralympian in history with 55 medals. Zorn’s career was winding down by 2000, but at the age of 36 she still managed to add five more Paralympic medals to her record total. … The wait continues for the postponed Paralympic Games next summer in Tokyo, but swimmers can at least see the pool they’ll dreaming about diving into. The Tokyo Aquatics Centre was officially inaugurated on Oct. 24 with a demonstration event that included Para swimming. The Aquatics Centre will also host Olympic swimming, and is one of few venues newly built for the Games. The arena was designed with accessibility in mind for all fans, and features wheelchair-accessible seating with sufficient height for fans in chairs to be able to still see the pool even if fans in front of them are standing.