COLORADO SRPINGS, Colo. (Army News Service, May 20, 2011) -- The swimming finals at the 2011 Warrior Games Friday brought the Army 15 medals, including several gold.
The Army had participants in all 15 events at the Olympic Training Aquatics Center, and though the competition was fierce, the camaraderie between the services was evident in the enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.
"I think the team did phenomenal today," said Holly Roselle, the Army coach. "They really stepped up and performed at a higher level than even they thought they could."
She explained the Army team wasn't expected to get as many medals as they did, and she was very proud of the team.
"It was an incredible day," Roselle said.
The Army team earned four gold medals over the course of the meet, to include two shut-outs in the Men's 50 LC Meter Freestyle open Multi-disability event and the Men's 100 LC Meter Freestyle open Multi-disability event.
The meet culminated in a relay, where the Army took silver.
Staff Sgt. Stefanie Mason won the gold in the Women's 50-meter freestyle open multi-disability event, with a time of 39.51 seconds, and the bronze in the Women's 50-meter backstroke open multi-disability event, with a time of 55.81 seconds.
She didn't expect to win the gold and said she was very excited.
"When I came over here I was kind of apprehensive, I didn't know what kind of swimming abilities (were) from the different branches, so I was kind of nervous about that," she said. After the preliminaries, she felt more confident.
Mason's family was present for the games. Her twin sister Jennifer Mason was with her from the practice week to the finals as a non-medical attendant.
"As a twin, it's great to have her there. She knows what I'm going through," Mason said.
Mason was almost killed in April 2010 during a Humvee accident, sustaining injuries in her brain and knee, but she didn't let that stop her. A year later, she was swimming.
Mason believes the Warrior Games is an excellent idea, and encourages the organizers to continue with the games in the future.
"It helps the Soldiers mentally and physically to focus on their abilities and not their disabilities," she said. "It's been a great experience."
The 2011 Warrior Games, a joint effort between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Department of Defense, is sponsored by Deloitte. For more information, see www.usparalympics.org/warriorgames.