Mallory Weggemann would be the first to tell anyone that perseverance and hard work go a long way.
Weggemann, a paraplegic world-class swimmer, has endured many trials to achieve the success she has. She currently holds 15 world records and 25 American records, and she is ranked top two in every event she swims in.
Weggemann’s passion for swimming began at an early age. She started competitively swimming at age seven and discovered a passion for the sport that fueled her hard work.
However, in January of 2008, at age 18, Weggemann went in to receive an epidural for back pain and was paralyzed.
“Things went wrong,” Weggemann said. “I never walked out.”
Weggemann returned home to Minnesota in March. She said she was “down in the dumps,” when one day, her sister brought her a newspaper article about the Paralympics.
Weggemann said that she was initially hesitant to attend the Paralympics, but she went anyway and had a blast.
“I realized my swimming wasn’t over if I didn’t want it to be,” she said.
The event gave Weggemann the hope she needed to get back in the pool and use swimming as her way of dealing and grieving her disability, she said.
“Swimming saved me,” she said.
Weggemann is now training for the 2012 Paralympics, which will be held two weeks after the regular Olympic games in London. The Paralympics are designed for athletes with disabilities and are the second largest sporting event in the world, only behind the Olympic games.
Weggemann is headed to the Olympic trials for seven individual events and two relays. She says she loves all swimming events and enjoys having a variety to keep her training “interesting.”
She is currently training four hours a day and relies solely on her core and arms to swim. She also lifts twice a week and does double workouts two to three times a week.
“It’s just hammering my arms for four hours,” Weggemann said of her daily training.
She said the most challenging part of her fitness plan is making sure she gets the recovery she needs so that she is able to “go back and do it the next day.” She tries to find the line between what’s “enough but not too much.”
“If I don’t properly recover, I can’t go and build upon my fitness plan for the next six days,” Weggemann said.
She said that the best advice for all women to follow is to find what works best for them and stick to it. Weggemann said it’s important to find a way to make fitness fun.
“There’s no textbook scenario that says what’s right or wrong,” she said. “Everybody’s different.”
Weggemann says her road to success was due in large part to her family and friends who helped her push herself. She said her support group inspires her to believe she can do everything she use to do.
Weggemann firmly believes that everything happens for a reason, which is something she has been telling herself continuously since the day she was paralyzed. Her goal is to return from the Paralympics with nine gold medals and new world records.
Edited by Jody Smith