A swimmer's courageous story

February 21, 2009 12:45:04 PM PST
Matt Wallace is not your everyday high school swimmer. It is not because he's better or worse than his competition, but because he can't see his competition. The Mosignor Bonner senior was born without eyes.

"I don't really see it as an extra challenge for me, I'm sure everybody else does, I don't," Matt said.

Blind or not, Matt makes no excuses.

So, just how does the free-style swimmer do it?

He's escorted over to the starting line and once he's in the water, he counts his strokes, keeps track of laps, and depends upon a spotter, who lets him know when he's close to the wall and has to flip.

"I have no idea where I'm at in the race, I always keep track of what lap I'm on, I always have that somewhere in my head," Matt said.

Matt might not be able to see his competition, but that doesn't mean, he can't beat them. He scored two points during his high school career, including this past season against Arbishop Carroll.

"I knew as soon as I touched the wall I beat him, because my teammates were going crazy," Matt said. The 17-year-old has come a long way, but every day is still a struggle to stay straight, avoiding the ropes or wall.

"I have gotten a lot of cuts in my day on the lane lines because I don't swim straight," Matt said.

"He'll get frustrated. In the middle of a practice, I'll hear him over in lane one, yelling," Stephen Stuhltrager said.

So frustrating that Matt nearly quit after just a few practices his freshman year.

"As a parent, it breaks your heart that he feels that way, but he's always shined," Matt's mother Lucy said.

Matt's determinitaiton is an inspiration to his family, his teammates, and, most of all, himself.

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