Mallory Weggemann Perspective: An Inclusive Swimming World

2012 Paralympic Gold Medalist, Mallory Weggemann

Note :The world’s best swimmers are in Minnesota this weekend for the first stop on the Pro Swim Series. Shortly after her very first warmup, Paralympic gold medalist and FINIS-sponsored athlete Mallory Weggemann reflected on the significance of this particular competition. For Weggemann and 12 other para-swimmers, this weekend in Minneapolis represents one step closer to a more unified community of competitors, friends and athletes.

As the first session kicks off in the Arena Pro Series here in Minneapolis, it is my hope that over the next three days we continue to bridge the gap between “able-bodied” and “para-swimming.” For me, it has been nearly eight years since my paralysis occurred, but within months of being paralyzed at the age of 18, I found myself back on the pool deck, back in water racing again. For eight years I have swum in what was formerly the Minnesota Grand Prix and is now the Arena Pro Series.

Less than a year after my injury, I wheeled onto the pool deck at the University of Minnesota for my first Grand Prix, and every year since, I have returned. You see, there is something magical about this meet to me. There is heart, soul, emotion, a community—one that to me is unlike any other, one that welcomed me with open arms during a time in my life when I needed it most. The pool deck there at the University of Minnesota is a spiritual place for me. It is a place where I have always felt welcome and at home. The Pro Series is seeing something this year that it has never seen before—there will be 13 para-swimmers that will walk/wheel onto the deck and compete alongside their peers in the “able-bodied” world. It is my hope that over the upcoming three days, what seems like two worlds will unite into one. We are swimmers, we are competitors, we are friends, we are teammates, and we are one.

The para-swimming world is one that I personally have been a part of for eight years now. However, I have been a part of the swimming world as a whole for nearly 20 years. I have seen both sides of the sport, and both sides are filled with heart, grit, determination, competitive spirit, camaraderie, athleticism, and a love for the very same black line at the bottom of the pool. We all fall, we all get back up again, we all triumph, and we all fight to be the best swimmers we can be. To me, there aren’t two worlds.

So as the deck empties and the doors close on Saturday evening, it is my hope that a world that we all love, that we all find peace and comfort in, continues to transform into one world and one community.

Click here for more about Mallory Weggemann on Swimming World.

FINIS Contributed to the article

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November 16, 2015
Swimming World Magazine