Adin Williams swims in the Lewisville Para Swimming World Series. (Photo: Alan Beane)
His hometown of Happy Valley, Oregon, is only a 45-minute drive from George Fox University, but in terms of Adin Williams’ growth as a swimmer, it might as well be a world away.
“Before I (came to) George Fox, I was swimming maybe a maximum of five hours a week … and wasn’t really as competitive back then,” said Williams, who increased that to 20 hours a week last year as a college freshman. “It’s made a huge difference in both my fitness level and my competition level.”
Williams, a member of the U.S. Paralympics Swimming National Team, also benefited from the tutelage of George Fox coach Natalie Turner.
“Right as I joined the George Fox team a year ago, (she) almost immediately agreed to be my coach for Paralympics, as well,” said Williams, “which was really special to me because I knew she was going to be a great coach and help me out a lot. But I was not expecting that she was going to beyond that, so that really means a lot to me.”
Now a 20-year-old sophomore member of the George Fox swimming team, Williams has already accomplished much as a Para swimmer. Over the past three years, he has collected 11 gold medals at the nationalchampionships. He also owns six American records in the S6 classification.
Williams — who has hypochondroplasia, a form of short-limbed dwarfism — regards the 50- and 100-meter freestyle as his strongest events but is trying to make strides elsewhere.
“I would like to work on improving in my (individual medley),” said Williams, “particularly in the breaststroke portion.”
Turner said she wasn’t sure what to expect from Williams when she recruited him as a senior at Gladstone High School.
“Adin had seen some success in his swimming before and he had lofty goals, but at the time my only concern was that Adin got to have that experience that is so unique to college swimming,” Turner said. “Adjusting to college swimming is tough for any athlete, and Adin had a lot of adjusting to do, but never once did I question his commitment.”
Turner saw Williams’ willingness to change his stroke, lift weights and do yoga with his teammates.
“He never missed a practice or an opportunity to be a part of the team,” Turner said. “Adin obviously saw a lot of progress in his freshman year. Unfortunately, with the COVID pandemic everything changed, but we just kept talking about how this just gave us more opportunities to get faster. Since then, Adin has had a fire under him that I don’t see dying down anytime soon.”
Williams, an organizational communications major, acknowledged that working around COVID has been a challenge.
“We’re just really limited on how we can do our swim training right now,” said Williams, who figures his U.S. Para swimming teammates are having the same experience. “My guess is they’re kind of in the same boat as I am, where we’re all able to train but under slightly different circumstances than what we’ve been able to do in the fall.
“When I came here as a freshman last year, we were going two hours at least once a day, six days a week. We’ve been impacted greatly by COVID, but the lucky thing for us is we’ve actually been one of the only schools to not only be able to operate in person, but also be able to have a swim season.”
Even in the face of the pandemic, Williams hasn’t let up a bit in the pool.
“Adin’s success is a direct (result of) how hard he works every day,” Turner said. “Every day that I get to coach Adin is fun. He loves getting feedback and working those changes into his sets. Adin is an incredibly hard worker, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.”
Turner said Williams’ teammates support his Para goals, which include making the U.S. team for the Paralympic Games Tokyo.
“I feel I have a decent chance,” said Williams, “but it’s going to be a matter of how my fitness level is over the next couple of months and how well I can perform at certain swim meets leading up to it.”
No doubt Turner will do everything in her power to help him get there.
“Our whole team is very proud of Adin for his tremendous work and results,” Turner said. “I can’t wait to see where the world of Para swimming takes Adin.”