Below are three of my favorite photos…all taken on the same day: October 29, 1993. The day of my “first race back.” If I was more computer-savvy, I would know how to insert them into my post, but alas, I am not…so they are at the end. (As a side note: I am working on a new website. As another aside, my 14-year-old read over my shoulder and said, “Mom, I can help you with that.”  Stay tuned!)

Today is the 25th anniversary of my return to competition. After 21 months of being out of the pool, 5 surgeries, three+ months in the hospital and hours (& hours!) of physical therapy learning to walk again, today, in 1993, I returned to competition. I just re-read the end of my book, beginning with the day of my first race. Part of me thought it would be the same as every other race, but it is not. Part of me knew it would be different, but it is not. I am strangely comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. 

I remember the day being like every other race: just a race. And yet, it was so much more than “just a race.” It was a triumphant return f0r a community that was healing. And the community came out in full force to watch me compete: my family, my ER and OR doctors, the state trooper who was the first on the scene of our accident, students, friends, athletes, and coaches from all sports across campus.

And then there was the one visitor I was most honored to see: Mrs. Hipp. October 29, 1993, was the day after what would have been her daughter, Colleen’s, 21st birthday. After hugging my parents, seeing Mrs. Hipp was the best hug of the day.

There is so much more I could write about this day 25 years ago, but these pictures really do sum up how I felt: the joy of finishing and celebrating with my coach; the genuine hug and love from my father, and the time shared with Ann Hipp. There is so much love in all three photos; love that I felt 25 years ago, and still feel today.

Coach Tim Welsh and I right after the 50 free.

Coach Tim Welsh and I right after the 50 free.

The best hug from my dad, just after the race.

The best hug from my dad, just after the race.

MRSHIPP