Team Army swimmers dive into life-long changes at the 2018 Warrior Games
By Leanne Thomas and Annette P. Gomes
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It provides an excellent aerobic workout for your heart and lungs, improves bad cholesterol and reduces blood pressure. The list of benefits swimming provides is long and according to Team Army adaptive swim coach Atiba Wade, the sport provides some of life's greatest lessons including determination, courage and triumph that can change the life of participants and spectators alike.
"One thing that makes swimming great is that it's a lifetime sport," Wade explained. "You can learn when you are literally a toddler and you can do it until you become a senior citizen, until the day you die, basically."
In addition to being a lifetime sport, camaraderie is another lesson found among the wounded, ill, and injured athletes competing in the swimming competition being held at the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games, U.S. Air Force Academy's Cadet Gymnasium Natatorium.
"Even though it is an individual sport, when you do it with a group of people, it really enhances the experience," said Wade. "It's really rewarding, for the group as well as for the individual."
Swimming is very accessible and that's an aspect that can be very appealing to individuals on the mend. The sport is often used for rehab, physical therapy, and to assist those with spinal cord injuries to increase their activity. According to Wade, swimming removes the gravitational force that can be pretty stressful on the joints.
"Soldiers and athletes dealing with spinal cord injuries will feel lighter in the water. Even though there is resistance when someone moves through the water, it can help participants reap therapeutic benefits." Wade said
"Some of Team Army's athletes never swam before getting involved in adaptive reconditioning at their Warrior Transition Unit. "Out here (in the pool) there are athletes that are definitely afraid of the water so we do our best to help them out," he added. "
Team Army swimmer U.S. Army Spc. Angela Euson is overcoming injuries and illness. During the swimming event, Euson saw her hard work pay off against stiff competition. "I can't even believe it," said Euson. "When I saw the times, I wanted to cry. I've been working so hard the past few months and it shows. I've improved my times in every single event I've competed in so far." She said
Euson won the silver medal in her classification for the 50-meter freestyle, and won the gold breaking a Warrior Games record in the 50-meter backstroke. "It's 90 percent mental," she said. "The physical part is already there thanks to all the training. Now it's just a matter of telling myself I can do it and not letting myself give up."
Colorado native and U.S. Army Maj. Eric Lintlemann is also reaping the reward of hard work. He earned the gold medal in the 50-meter backstroke in his classification. Lintlemann was still riding high on adrenaline but he knows what's coming physically when the competition is over.
"I'm so happy," said Lintlemann. My arms feel okay (now), but they'll be smoked tonight! Solely concentrating on a faster kick got him through to the finish line. He had just two words to say about the experience; "It's awesome."
Wade says his role as coach is more than just technique and drills. He's also learning a few lessons from the wounded, ill and injured Soldiers under his watch.
"Warriors are exceptionally brave individuals who can overcome any type of adversity life puts before them. These Warrior Games are a testament to that Warrior Spirit. I'm actually honored and humbled to be part of their journey."
For more information on swimming and the results of the event go to: https://dodwarriorgames.com/games-results/2018-results/