I have received so many wonderful e-mails through this website, and I will continue to answer them all. I want to share two stories as examples of why this story needs to be told, especially now.
From a father in PA:
You are such an inspiration. My daughter is thirteen years old and is a swimmer on our local YMCA team. She is facing a serious surgery this summer on her spine. She has scoliosis and must have fusions done at the top and bottom of her spine. My daughter says she can’t wait to return to the pool but she is also getting more quiet and angry as the surgery draws near. Please know that I will tell her your story and feel certain that it will inspire her to push on.
From a mother in CA:
I just wanted to let you know what an inspiration you are to me. I am so touched by what you have gone through during the past 16 years of your life. I pray that I can find the courage you found. I am a 29 year old mommy who has back and neck injuries and I have practically given up on ever having a happy, normal life again. I look forward to your book. I hope that one day I too will be able to be a good wife and mommy again. This is also why I am so happy to have come across the article about you in the paper. You gave me the hope that maybe life will not be the horrific way I dream it to be. Maybe there will be a way out of this darkness. I haven’t come across any young people who have/are going through this type of pain and disappointment, but you have. People I have met either discount my pain because they do not know or they scare me even more with stories of people they have known whose entire lives were ruined by a back injury. Not you: you’re the positive person I wish I could be!
What a gift for me to share my story with others, and what an honor to be able to help others. Thank you for visiting!
While trying to find a publishing company for What Though the Odds, several publishers asked Why now?
Why now? is a good question and has a great answer: The perspective of time.
Certainly I could have written a version of this book several years ago - and the facts of the accident, my injury and recovery, and return to swimming would have been the same. The facts have not changed over time.
However, this book is the story of a journey. A journey that began the night of Januray 24, 1992, and in many ways continues to this day. It is a journey of grieving - both for my teammates lost; and for the life I could no longer have, for the swimmer I could no longer be, and for the person who could not go back to “the way things were.” It is a journey of healing - learning to live with this tragedy and to embrace the goodness that came from it. Yes, goodness.
We all experience tragedy in our lives. It is a part of life we can’t control. What we can control however, is how we deal with it. 16 years ago I could not have told you what it was like to live with tragedy in my life. 16 years ago I could not have told you that there are lessons I have learned from the bus accident for which I am thankful. 16 years ago I could not have told you that I am a better person, a more thankful person, a more spiritual person, because of what I have endured.
That is the story. That is the journey. That is the answer to “why now?”
USA Swimming is the governing body for the sport of swimming. From grass-roots programs to the Olympic Team, USA Swimming guides, educates, promotes and develops swimmers and swim teams across the country.
Five years ago, USA Swimming’s Executive Director, Chuck Wielgus, and Chief Marketing Officer, Rod Davis, came to me with an idea to promote the sport of swimming in a mainstream way. Chuck and Rod introduced me to people who were so vital to this book coming to fruition: Rick Derby, who spent months interviewing my former teammates and coaches; and Bob Schaller, my co-author who spent 2 1/2 years on this journey to publish this inspiring book.
In continuation of their support of my story and their belief in the power of the sport of swimming, USA Swimming has agreed to run excerpts from my book, one over each of the next four weeks, on their website.
Check it out:
Thanks to all the folks at USA Swimming!
People often ask me if I still swim. Until recently, my answer was the same, “I swam through both pregnancies, but with two young boys, I don’t have time. Although I’d love to get back in the water at some point.” That time is now.
Several weeks ago, a good friend of mine in Annapolis asked me to swim with her. She has never been a swimmer and decided at age 35 to do a triathlon. (GOOD FOR HER - I’m so impressed!) I hesitated. But she was persistent. THANK GOODNESS SHE WAS. After my alumni race at Notre Dame last month, I snagged an ND swim cap (thanks Coach!) and texted my girlfriend the morning I left South Bend: “When are we swimming?” The boys are both in school; the “I don’t have time” excuse is no longer valid.
So I am back in the pool. And I love it. I knew I did - I just forgot how much. I still don’t love the cold water, but it is exhilarating to dive in and feel that rush. I even hit my hand on the lane line (that hurts!) and smiled to myself as I continued swimming…how many times did I do that? I had forgotten and was glad to be back in the pool to remember. There are parts of your life that never go away, and parts of my life that only come alive when I am in the water.
Thanks to my great friends Kate and Steve for hosting a fabulous Cinco de Mayo party in honor of the book going to print! They were kind enough to invite those in Annapolis who were vital to getting this book to print on time: friends who helped edit, read through, and friends who watched/drove my children so I could stay at home (or Zu Coffee) and work. GRACIAS!!!
Pictures from the party are posted in the PHOTOS section.
THE BOOK IS DONE, EDITED AND PROOFED. It is very exciting and quite a relief to know that we are just days away from going to print….May 5th….Cinco de Mayo. I have been counting down to this date for several weeks!
ALSO- just in this morning: FOREWORD BY LOU HOLTZ! Coach Holtz generously wrote the foreword to the book. He has always been so kind and gracious - and supportive of my story. A big thanks to him!
The next countdown begins: to June 2nd….RELEASE DATE!