Inspirations in Our Ranks, Part 3

“My coach, Paige Gross, has helped me to continue in my growth and improvement as a swimmer and a person. Although I swam well at the Disabled Championships, I was a little off my times, and will make adjustments for the Long Course Championships (just held in August). With these changes, I will be ready to make a run for the 2000 Paralympic Swim Trials in Indianapolis next June! I dream of making that Paralympic Swim team and I know that I can do it. I never achieve my goals alone. My family, teammates, coaches and friends over the years are a huge part of my success!”

Lisa Elsener of Kansas City, Kansas is also a world-class athlete. When her three sisters swam for the Kansas City Blazers swim team in 1983, they invited Lisa to join them and she’s been with the Blazers, now as a Masters swimmer, ever since. The 30-year old swimmer with cognitive disabilities set five American records at the New Zealand World Disabled Championships in 1998, continuing to make her a top athlete in the Kansas City Masters program. Presently, she is training to qualify for the World Championship Team representing the US in Australia next year.

Jason Wening is a 24-year old USMS swimmer with physical disabilities. A bilateral amputee with a partially formed left hand, he has been swimming competitively for 14 years. Currently a holder of world records in his class for the 400M, 800M and 1500M free and the 400M IM, he has never been defeated in the 400M free in disabled competition. The University of Michigan graduate student says:

“I believe that for most adult disabled swimmers, a Masters swim team is an excellent training environment. The range of abilities on most Masters teams is such that a person with nearly any type of disability can find a lane with people of a similar speed. A USMS team can provide the swimmer with the technical instruction, many disabled swimmers need very badly. Masters teams also provide a dedicated group of athletes who enjoy training. This reduces the everyday drudgery that swimming can become when you’re training alone.

“I highly recommend USMS teams to disabled swimmers who are training alone for serious competitions, or just swimming to stay healthy. I also hope that Masters teams reach out to disabled people whom they see swimming laps, and offer them the opportunity (maybe even some friendly pressure) to join the team.

Many disabled people who just swim for health reasons would not consider joining a team because they would be very unsure of their ability to fit into the team’s training program, and like any lap swimmer, might be a little self-conscious of the competitive nature of a swim team.”

One of the wonderful aspects of USMS is its ability to happily include everyone among its ranks: from the world-class swimmer to the slow and steady, but dedicated lap swimmer.

I’m proud that we have these devoted and inspirational athletes among our members.

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