By Gabriel Baumgaertner
September 16, 2016
When Mallory Weggemann wheels out to the pool deck, her face remains friendly but mostly expressionless, her ears covered by pink headphones and her eyes staring forward toward her aqueous home. As she prepares to dive in, she forgets about how she got here—her leg weight disappearing following an epidural shot, a shower bench collapsing causing permanent injury to her left arm and the bureaucratic nightmares surrounding her Paralympic classification drift—for a few minutes at least, so she can swim.
Almost none of her competitors in the S8 Paralympic classification are paralyzed below the waist like she is, and their left arms don’t spasm because of severe nerve damage. She simply removes her headphones, hoists herself out of her chair and onto the starting blocks and awaits the beep to start another race.