Grant resident Summer Schmit, Team USA swimmer who competed in the Paralympics in Tokyo, reached the finals in three of her five events there.
“It was a wonderful experience! It was incredible to meet and compete with some of the best athletes in the world,” Schmit stated in an email. She was satisfied with the outcome. “I went into the Games with a goal of making finals in at least a few events.”
The 17-year-old member of St. Croix Swim Club placed fifth in the 200 individual medley in 2:38.64, sixth in the 100 butterfly in 1:12.95, and seventh in the 400 free in 4:56.92, all personal bests. She didn’t reach finals in 100 breaststroke or 100 freestyle.
The Paralympics took place Aug. 24 through Sept. 2; 163 countries were represented.
Schmit, who has no right hand due to a congenital disarticulation of the wrist, explained that Paralympics has 14 classifications to keep the playing field fair. The S1 to S10 classifications are physical impairments, S11 to S13 are visual impairment and S14 is for intellectual impairments. The lower the number, the more severe the disability.
“Because I am an S9,” she said, “it means that most of my competitors have an above-knee or a below-elbow amputation, although different disabilities can also be classified as S9 as well.”
Asked about the social aspects, Schmit said it was difficult to interact with athletes from other countries due to COVID precautions, but she was able to get acquainted with a few at the pool and dining hall. One of the Paralympic traditions is trading pins. “I had a ton of fun pin trading with lots of different countries,” she said.
Schmit is homeschooled while she attends Century College as a postsecondary enrollment option (PSEO) student. She hopes to swim in the next Paralympics in Paris in 2024.