Trinity Academy swimming
Patton, a sophomore, competes year round and has been swimming all his life. He has spina bifida, a birth defect, and was born with a lesion on his spine.
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How did you get into swimming?
“My first swim lesson was when I was about 9 months old, and I’ve just always loved swimming. It’s been so great for me. It’s one of the best sports. I swim year round.”
Swimming’s a pretty tough sport.
“If you’re not used to swimming, then it’s a really tough sport. I even sometimes have a really tough time with it, and I’m a pretty good swimmer.
“Whenever it gets tough for me, I feel like I want to not continue with it. I just feel so bad. But I fight because I love it so much, and I know that I can fight on through it.”
You have spina bifida, but you have such a positive attitude in regards to it. Why?
“I’m really fortunate because a lot of people with spina bifida are in wheelchairs, and I can walk. I am so thankful about that every day. There have been little battles, but I just try to stay positive. I have been given a great life, and I need to appreciate that, and I do.”
I’m sure there are some sports you can’t do.
“I love football, and a lot of people have been telling me I should play. But I can’t play because of spina bifida. Along with the lesion on my spinal cord when I was born, it gave me physical limitations in my legs. And I have super small feet.”
Do your feet affect you in swimming, especially with your starts, turns and kicks?
“It hinders me a little bit. With my small feet, I don’t necessarily have springs, so to speak. I can’t jump really high or jump really far, so that translates to slower-than-normal times. But I try to make the best out of it, and I just don’t really focus on my place in meets, my ranking. I just care about my own times, focus on my own teams and beat those times.”
You must be really strong in your upper body.
“Um, yes. I am. It’s kind of funny. My nickname on the swim team is Ape. My upper body is a lot like an ape, apparently. I have big broad shoulders, and I’ve been told I look like a football player with big biceps and big forearms.… Most of my strength is in my upper body.”