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The Paralympic Trials meet in Minneapolis created anxious uncertainty. Would Beth make the U.S. team going to Greece? If she did, could she leave Athens early to start her freshman year at Harvard?
Additional stress: Beth would attend Trials as a member of the Toledo team, yet she had decided to switch to her hometown team. ...And continued to put off telling GTAC. Coaches from both teams would be at Trials.
Previous times and records faded to irrelevancy.
The only races that counted at Trials would take place in the three days of the meet. This fact put the few swimmers with quadriplegia at a disadvantage, since they had a higher likelihood of health issues that impacted performance. The first year Beth swam competitively, her times varied widely. Three years later, she was stronger with fewer health issues. As a result, her races usually fell into a more consistent range.
I updated my list of Beth’s best times and official records. I hoped to add to my list at Trials. However, for an S3 swimmer, new American Records were no guarantee for a spot on the U.S. Paralympic team going to Greece.
John, Beth, and I flew to Minneapolis with the help of a Challenged Athletes grant. Airport security glanced in our direction and waved Beth through. She put up with a cumbersome process to help her to an aisle seat in the plane. John and I climbed over her to get to the middle and window seats.
At the hotel, Beth twisted nail polish bottles open with her teeth for her pre-meet ritual. Her fingernails shined in red, white, and blue, fitting choices for Trials. She didn’t care about her painted nails looking less than perfect.
Beth trusted that more practice would yield better results—like so many other things.
Next: A Teenager's First Trip Overseas?
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