“I had the two black lines in my life, I had the black line that trailed the pages of my journal, and I had the black line that trails the bottom of a pool. And both gave me that place to be, that place to process, to grieve. I found the ability—with swimming specifically—to bridge my past to my present and lead me toward something in my future and allow me to understand that life was bigger than the moment I was facing. Swimming, in a lot of ways, brought me back to life.”
Though she’d grown up in the water, Mallory Weggemann was nearly ready to leave competition behind for other dreams. But when a medical procedure gone wrong resulted in her paralysis at age 18, she found herself back in the pool. There, she regained her strength and confidence—and excelled swiftly enough to win Paralympic gold four years later in London.
She had every intention of blazing forward with her athletic career and defending her gold in Rio. In 2014, though, she suffered another severe setback. At this second point of impact, she had to decide all over again why she swam, and whether it was worth the fight.
In this week’s episode—and her fantastic new book, Limitless: The Power of Hope and Resilience to Overcome Circumstance—the soon-to-be three-time Paralympian explains exactly why she didn’t give in, and all the teamwork, support, and strength it took to work her way back to the black line that made her feel at home.
A huge thank you to our sponsor for this episode: Fluid Running. Fluid Running makes it possible to maintain your peak physical fitness even when you’re injured through the power of deep water running. Listen for a special discount code in the episode!
In this episode, we discuss:
- What the process of writing her book was like (5:56)
- Why, and how, she kept a journal over the years—and the benefits it brought her (8:48)
- What she means by “sudden moment of impact” (13:01)
- Her second injury, in 2014, and why it was even more challenging to recover from emotionally than the one that led to her paralysis (16:28)
- Why she had to stop comparing her current self to her past self, and how she did it (21:25)
- How she used visualization both to preserve her mental health during a dark time and prepare when she returned to competition (30:03)
- The reality of medical flashbacks, and how she copes with them (34:15)
- “I can do it” vs. “We can do it,” and the balance of community and independence (37:06)
- How she’s come to see the gifts her experiences have brought her (41:54)
- The big realization that we can feel two things at once (44:20)
- Her final words of wisdom for injured athletes and others facing setbacks (51:57)
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- Mallory’s website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
- Her book Limitless: The Power of Hope and Resilience to Overcome Circumstance
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