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The U.S. Paralympics Swimming Insider For March 19, 2021

By Todd Kortemeier | March 19, 2021, 2:03 p.m. (ET)

Every other week we scour the web for the latest going on in the world of U.S. Para swimming. Here’s what you missed!

In the News

The Para swimming community was saddened March 12 by the news that five-time Paralympian and two-time Paralympic gold medalist Curtis Lovejoy passed away at the age of 63 following a battle with leukemia. Lovejoy had recently retired from swimming as his disease progressed and halted his efforts to make a sixth Paralympic Games this summer. In his decades-long athletics career, Lovejoy also competed in wheelchair fencing and was the Team USA flag bearer at the 2015 Parapan American Games.

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With the Paralympic Games postponed, possibly never to happen, what’s a Para swimmer to do? Sophia Herzog found the most elite competition she could. Herzog moved to Salida, Colorado, in 2019 and began working with the local high school coach while training in their pool. With the pandemic shutdown and Games in flux, Herzog began swimming with the high schoolers and testing herself against them. In such an unusual year, Herzog admits it’s tough to tell exactly where she is at in her training, but whatever she’s doing is working. She set two American records at a meet in February.

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Jessica Long was featured on the Tokyo 2020 website, talking about her training for the Games, her attention-grabbing Super Bowl commercial, her new marriage and more.  

Long will also be among the Team USA Para athletes who will take part in a series of AMAs (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit in the coming months. Fellow U.S Para swimmer Mallory Weggemann also took part in the online question-and-answer session on March 4. Long’s turn is on April 29.

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Swimming has been on the Paralympic program since 1960. But starting in 2022, Para swimmers will finally be eligible for induction in the International Swimming Hall of Fame. The Hall’s Board of Directors made it official March 9 after voting to amend the eligibility requirements for swimmers. And it’s not only swimmers; Para athletes of all aquatic sports becomes the ninth category of athlete eligible for induction. Five Paralympic experts will evaluate those candidates only. Nominations for the Class of 2022 are open now.

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Army veteran and Paralympic gold medalist Ellie Marks was featured by the U.S. Department of Defense, discussing her military career and how she’s balanced that with swimming. A combat medic, Marks joined the Army in 2008. After being injured on assignment in 2010, Marks discovered swimming as part of her rehab. By 2015, she was the first Army veteran to win a Paralympic gold medal in swimming.

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Former Para swimmer Serafina King was featured by TeamUSA.org, discussing her new career as a Para rower at the University of Oklahoma. Now 22, King is a Paralympic hopeful in rowing.

Social Media Roundup

Numerous U.S. Para swimmers posted in honor of National Women’s Day on March 8, including Sophia HerzogEllie Marks and Becca Meyers. Meyers was one of several visually impaired athletes to also post as part of the #HowYouSeeMe campaign, demonstrating how despite sometimes negative perceptions from others, Meyers has had success.

Today at age 26, I have won 6 Paralympic medals, 3 of them gold, set multiple world records and will graduate from Franklin and Marshall College with a stellar GPA,” she wrote.I am not a dumb, incompetent, blind mute person. I am Becca Meyers who has shot for the stars and have achieved things beyond my wildest dreams. This is #HowYouSeeMe.

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A special moment in the life of any author is the first time they see their published book for sale on the shelf. Mallory Weggemann got to have that special moment March 2 when her book “LIMITLESS” was released and she was able to go see it on the Target shelf.

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World Para Swimming shared the story of Breanna Sprenger.

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Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the comedic stylings of Lizzi Smith.

Todd Kortemeier

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to USParaSwimming.org on behalf of Red Line EditorialInc.