Paralympic Swimmer Brad Snyder is representing Team USA again in Rio after winning three medals, two of them gold, at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The former U.S. Navy lieutenant and bomb specialist lost his sight on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2011. Snyder was running to help two Afghan landmine victims when he stepped on a mine himself. He was blinded in the incident and said that swimming was key to his recovery:
“I felt so free, so liberated, so independent,” said Snyder. He had previously been captain of the U.S. Naval Academy’s swim team. “There are some adaptations. I change the way that I recover my arms, so I drag my fingertips along the surface, looking for the lane line.”
In just a few months of training, Snyder qualified for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic team and is a favorite to win again in Rio.
He says of his fellow athletes, “I’m rooting for them just as much as I’m rooting for myself…Every athlete has overcome so much, and represents this idea that the human spirit is unconquerable.”
Snyder, based in Baltimore, MD, will be accompanied in Rio by his guide dog Gizzy.
You can follow Brad Snyder on Twitter @BradSnyderUSA and other Paralympians on the tag #WithoutLimits. Swimming continues until September 17.