Recently Brad Snyder, a United States Navy veteran, shattered records at the ECAC Swimming Championships. Brad broke his own record in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 53.12. He first set the record back in 2014 with a time of 55.59. It was followed by a new American record in the 100 yard backstroke with a time of 1:03. The previous record had been 8 seconds longer.
Mr. Snyder sets two new records within his S11 categories. S11 is a category used within the Paralympics. Anyone who swims under this category denotes that they are severely visually impaired or blind. Swimmers are required to wear black out goggles and receive a tap on the shoulder as they approach the wall.
Snyder is an inspiration for his fellow Paralympic athletes, and to all Americans. After graduating from the Naval Academy in 2006, he proudly served his country as an explosive ordnance disposal officer. It was in 2011 during a tour in Afghanistan that Brad lost his eyesight after stepping on an IED while trying to help the victims of a separate bombing. As a true hero, Brad was in the water less than a year later competing for a spot on the US Paralympic Team. Fate granted him that wish and he quickly became one of the world’s fastest blind swimmers, taking home two gold medals and a silver.
The competition was held on the first weekend of the month at the US Naval Academy, which is located in Annapolis, Maryland. ECAC stands for the Eastern College Athletic Competition and includes team such as the University of Virginia, Army West Point, and the Naval Academy. For the first time in competition the ECAC launched it’s Inclusive Sports Initiative. It allows Paralympic athletes to score at meets and it blew expectations out of the water. Brad was not the only one who set records – in fact, there were 8 others.
Speaking to Swimming World, Brad released a statement showcasing his pride and approval of the inclusion initiative; “I’m immensely proud and excited about the ECAC inclusion initiative! I was honored to compete in the exhibition and I’m looking forward to seeing how the “disability” category is integrated next year. It is my most sincere hope that this inclusion initiative will serve as a model for other conferences to follow in the future. I think this is a win-win for all those involved.”
I salute Brad for his service to our country and for being a great American!