WEST POINT, NY, UNITED STATES
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- U.S. Marine Corps veterans at the pinnacle of their adaptive rehabilitation from various non-combat and combat-related injuries joined their counterparts from the other military services to participate in the swimming competition finals at the 2016 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., June 20, 2016.
Some of the athletes stated that swimming specifically aided them in their overall rehabilitation.
Lance Cpl. Reid Arendall, a Fort Worth, Texas, native, was injured when he was out with friends in Wilmington, N.C. He was blind-sided when a stranger struck him in face with a brick.
“I never saw the guy; we weren't causing any trouble,” Arendall said. “He came up behind me and hit me on the right side of my face.”
In addition to the massive physical trauma caused by the attack, the incident impeded his ability to function normally in public without extreme anxiety. Arendall said being part of a team and coming to the Warrior Games has helped him become reconditioned to being in large groups, and swimming has helped with his physical conditioning.
“I've felt my body go from where [I was when] I first started swimming, and it was torturous every day, to where I am now. I'm getting in the pool and swimming, and I get out, and I feel great,” he said. “I feel like I can go run a couple miles and go cycle and still get back into the pool and start swimming again. It's built me up to a whole new level of stamina and physical endurance that I never thought I had.”
According to Arendall, it's about more than just physical rehabilitation, however.
“My favorite thing about swimming would definitely be the camaraderie,” he said. “If someone is slowing down, they're going to get pushed by everybody. It's not just one team pushing you; it's going to be every single person in the crowd standing up. No matter what service you're from, everybody is going to be up cheering for you to get to the finish line.
“Even though we are broken in a sense, we all get to come together and do something with each other.”
Team Marine Corps member, Cpl. Gabriel Gehr of Delphos, Ohio, said swimming has greatly impacted his life and rehabilitation as well. He was injured in an enemy rocket attack in Afghanistan and suffered injuries that impeded his ability to walk normally and without pain.
“It was November 20th, 2013,” Gehr said. “I'll never forget that day.”
Gehr said he started swimming a year and a half ago with his coach and has been into it ever since.
“I enjoyed the sport, and it made me become whole again,” Gehr said. “Physically – outside the pool – I'm wounded – but inside the pool, I'm beast-mode, I can do it all.”
Win or lose, Team Marine Corps joined together and overcame their wounds, illnesses and injuries to tenaciously compete in all of their events at the Warrior Games in true Devil Dog fashion. Chesty Puller would have been proud.
||WEST POINT, NY, US
||DELPHOS, OH, US
||FORT WORTH, TX, US
This work, Marines use swimming as adaptive rehabilitation, friendly competition, by SGT Brandon Rizzo, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.