Mallory grew up in the swimming pool. So she never imagined that it would ever be a source of fear for her. But that’s what it became as she started water therapy just a few weeks following her spinal cord injury.
“It was probably one of the most terrifying experiences of my life because I realized as the water rose higher and higher around my legs that I couldn’t feel it. And I think it was the first time I really realized that I couldn’t feel my own legs.”
Mallory became a paraplegic in 2008 at the age of 18 when an epidural shot went wrong. Following her frightening experience in the therapy pool, Mallory continued to push forward and soon found herself facing a 50-meter competition-sized pool. She readily admits that she was terrified: “I pushed off the side of the pool, and I kinda flopped in the water.” She came back up to the surface, set her sights to the end of the pool, and started swimming.
She hasn’t stopped since. Mallory trained incredibly hard and began to rack up awards and recognition for her swimming. She was the female World Disabled Swimmer of the Year in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, she was presented the Best Female Athlete With a Disability ESPY Award, and in 2012 she competed in the London Paralympic games where she won two metals and set the 50-meter freestyle record. Mallory plans to participate in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
Mallory has worked hard and made incredible strides from that moment when she was a frightened young woman entering the therapy pool. Watch the video below to hear Mallory talk about her journey and see her in her element.
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