Senior Grace Spath was diagnosed with Long QT syndrome last year after she collapsed during a morning swim practice over the summer. Her diagnosis left her heartbroken; after being a swimmer for more than 10 years, she was deemed unfit for competition.
Long QT syndrome is characterized as a heart rhythm disorder that can cause fast, chaotic heartbeats. This diagnosis, however, has not stopped her from pursuing the sport she loves.
“I think the hardest obstacle was finding a way to keep swimming as a part of me when I couldn’t compete myself anymore. I’ve found so many ways that I love to keep being around the sport,” she said.
The team captain’s dedication was rewarded last week at Waukegan.
Spath swam competitively for the first time since her diagnosis, swimming a 1:23.15 for the 100 yard breaststroke. Cheers erupted throughout the stands and on the swim deck as people congratulated and applauded her finish of the race.
“It felt so amazing to swim that 100 breast last week. Just having the whole team supporting me and actually finishing an event was just incredible. I loved every minute of it,” she said.
Swim coach Carolyn Grevers may have been more nervous than Spath.
“The team was excited to see Grace race for the team again. I was nervous, but knew she was healthy and strong enough to handle the excitement,” she said.
Grevers said she is proud of Spath’s attitude and work ethic.
“For her, this was about being part of the team at the meet, but she’s already at every meet and practice. To make it through everything and still care so much about swimming and the team makes her spirit and character something everyone looks up to,” Grevers said.
Teammate Mattison Boveri called Spath a “competitor” who is “always there for the team.”
“It has been very hard for her, from going to be such a competitive swimmer to not being able to do it as much,” she said. “She has been positive throughout the experience and recognizes her new boundaries but still pushes herself to the best of her ability.”
Spath will push the boundaries again and swim Thursday at Girls Swim and Dive Senior Night at home versus Zion Benton.