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    Swimming competition concludes Army Trials

    Army Trials at Fort Bliss

    Photo By Spc. Ian Ryan | U.S. Army veteran Sgt. Ryan Major from Towson, Maryland practices his swimming...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Army Recovery Care Program

    By John M. Rosenberg
    Warrior Transition Command

    FORT BLISS, Texas – Swimming competition was a fitting way to conclude the 2016 Army Trials, held at Fort Bliss, Texas, March 6-10. Of the seven adaptive sports in which more than 100 Army athletes took part in with hopes of securing 45 coveted slots at the 2016 Warrior Games, swimming is said to be among the most physically taxing.

    According to Staff Sgt. Carlton Duncan, noncommissioned officer in charge of adaptive reconditioning directorate at the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, swimming might also be the most exciting of Army Trials events. “The grandstands are full,” exclaimed Duncan, himself an experienced adaptive sports athlete.

    The most raucous moment of the day occurred as Army veteran Sgt. Ryan Major of Towson, Maryland, a bilateral amputee, swam the 50- meter backstroke down lane eight of the Fort Bliss Aquatics Training Center lap pool. The crowd roared in encouragement for Major, who sustained his injuries from an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol in Iraq. Upon completing his race he was fervently congratulated in the water by fellow athletes.

    Alongside the pool could be heard a cross-section of commentary from the swimmers, including that of Spc. Nathan Butler, from Royse City, Texas, who laughingly told his teammates that his objective was simply “to just get a good flip and kick off the wall” in his upcoming freestyle event.

    Then there was veteran Staff Sgt. Randi Gavell, of Grand Junction, Colorado, a multi-medalist at the 2015 Warrior Games, who enjoys the breaststroke on account of, what she calls, “that 8th of a second longer period of time spent underwater on each stroke,” offering an ever so slight bit of additional peace and tranquility.

    Many of the athletes began swimming only recently. Veteran Cpl. Matt Mueller of Fort Morgan, Colorado, another medal machine at last year’s Warrior Games, learned how to swim only a year ago. Mueller appreciates the excellent coaching he received at Army Trials, saying they understood how best to instruct him given his visual impairment.

    One contestant, Army Reserve Maj. Janet Rose, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Hood, Texas, learned how to swim at an early age. Soon to turn 60, she says that she has loved the water ever since.

    Rose grew up in a small Texas town with only two swimming pools. She attended college at Texas Tech University, naively waltzing into the initial meeting of the powerhouse swim team with every expectation of joining. “I came in never having seen an indoor swimming pool, having no idea about swim caps or goggles, and wearing a two-piece swimsuit when everyone else was in one-piece,” said Rose.

    Like the world class coaches hired for Army Trials, Rose was fortunate in coming across a top-quality swim coach at Texas Tech, insisted that she stick with the program. She went on to become not only a certified lifeguard, but an adaptive swimming instructor.

    In coming to Army Trials, Rose, an Army nurse, says that she was “as terrified as I was on that day at Texas Tech 40 years ago.”

    In all, 37 sets of medals (111) were awarded alongside the lap pool at Army Trials.

    According to Duncan, swimming is a demanding event, especially after a lengthy Army Trials. Duncan said, “It’s also a great sport for the senior leaders of the Regional Health Commands to see, witnessing firsthand the determination and hard work of their athletes.”



    Date Taken: 03.14.2016
    Date Posted: 03.14.2016 16:14
    Story ID: 192310
    Location: FORT BLISS, TX, US 

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