Reporting Mike Schuh
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—There is an extraordinary man training in Baltimore who will soon go swim in London.
Sacrifice is part of any athlete’s journey, but as Mike Schuh reports, Bradley Snyder gave first to his country.
When it’s dawn, and you’re swimming, you know something about sacrifice.
Lt. Bradley Snyder swam for the Naval Academy.
“I took pride in being smaller but being still competitive, and I had to work harder than everyone else,” Snyder said.
That attitude caught the eye of the Discovery Network, following his work as a bomb technician.
His tour of Iraq went well. Afghanistan did not.
“I was trying to get a litter to one of our casualties, and I stepped on a secondary device,” Snyder said.
Shrapnel flew into his eyes. The last thing he saw was that he still had legs.
“He’s been blind for less than a year,” said Brian Loeffler, Synder’s coach.
Part of his therapy began in the pool.
“To be able to hop back into the pool and be good at something, to excel at something, was a nice respite from the rest of the day that was much more of a challenge,” Snyder said.
So good in just a few months he became the fastest blind swimmer in the world.
What about his attitude?
“Oh, it’s outstanding,” Loeffler said.
Now he’s a gold medal paralympic contender in London.
And consider this. Exactly one year to the day after losing his sight, he will swim in his best event.
“I’m really looking forward to that day because being able to compete in London really means that I have conquered my disability. I have succeeded,” Snyder said.
He sacrificed his eyesight to clear safe lanes for others, an unforeseen path leading to perhaps becoming the fastest paralympian in the pool in London.
“An injury like this really can kind of shake at the core of you, so to be able to succeed at this level really gives me a lot of confidence moving forward in all the other aspects of my life,” Snyder said. “Where I want to be is up on that podium with my flag being raised.”
Snyder’s coach, Brian Loeffler, also runs the swim team at Loyola University Maryland. He’s been named a national paralympic coach and will travel to London for the games.