Savannah Abshire | Reporter
Senior Elliot Cooper’s life was changed in many ways last summer when he was told he would need surgery to correct the 45 degree and 55 degree in his spine. Cooper, a swimmer of 10 years, was devastated by the news.
“It felt terrible. I felt like there would be no way I could ever swim in college and even qualify for state,” Cooper said. “The year was going to already be difficult for me as I failed to even qualify for state my junior year after doing it so easily my sophomore year.”
Spending a week and a half in the hospital following the surgery, Cooper had to learn how to walk and breathe on his own again, with little to no sleep from the pain. Cooper, once a high level athlete, couldn’t even get himself out of bed on his own for a few days and the task was difficult for the following weeks. Although Cooper loved swimming, it was hard to get back into swimming after the six weeks of recovery.
“The struggle I faced the most was consistently finding a reason to come to practice following a huge setback,” Cooper said.
Cooper said it would not have been possible without the support from his friends, family, and coaches. His head coach, Coach Jon Karr has had a large impact on his swimming.
“[Coach Karr] has had the greatest impact on my swimming. He remained patient and always supported me in the most difficult times and I am beyond thankful for everything he has done,” Cooper said.
As his teammates and coaches rallied around him in the club season of late summer and early fall, Cooper started to make his comeback. Even with some limitations, Cooper continued to swim. His accomplishments included getting fourth in the 100 yard butterfly, the school record in the 100 yard butterfly, the Junior Nationals time in the 100 butterfly, and the All-American award in the 100 butterfly. In December, he was nominated for and was awarded the Indiana Athlete of the Month by Wish-TV and IBEW.
“It was relieving to see everything come together at state. The past two years have been a mess and it felt so good to finally achieve the goals I set for myself,” Cooper said. “The high moments remind [me] why I struggled even when I wanted to quit. The highlight of my season was being able to swim again after thinking it was not possible.”