A pentathlon may seem like a bit much to some people, but to those who it’s a passion, it can never be “too much”.
Natalie Bowman, from Lodi, California, has been competing for the Tiger Aquatics (Stockton, CA) team since she was 4-years-old. She commented, saying that swimming “was [my] first sport and has continued to be where [my] strength lies.”
At the age of 12, Natalie was diagnosed with a very serious case of idiopathic scoliosis, with a double major curve, putting a severe damper on her training regimen. But what exactly IS “idiopathic scoliosis” and a “double major curve”?
- “Idiopathic scoliosis is lateral curving of the spine that occurs for unknown reasons – usually between the ages of ten and thirteen – when the skeletal frame is developing most rapidly.”
- “In a double major curve the upper part of the curve occurs in the thoracic or chest area, while the lower part affects the lumbar area. The thoracic curve shifts the ribs and creates a deformity that is known as a rib hump on the back, while the lumbar curve twists the hips so they appear uneven and can cause a great deal of pain.”
In most cases, a back brace can prevent further curving, but after three years of consistent wear, the brace did not help Natalie. She underwent a spinal fusion surgery, “implanting two steel rods and 17 hooks/screws made of surgical steel to place her spine in better alignment.”
Obviously, after her surgery, her training schedule had to be adjusted severely. “I was fortunate in that my surgeon, who swam for Stanford in college, understood my needs. We worked really hard to have a balance between recovery and training. But overall, after surgery Ive only trained longer and harder,” Natalie stated.
That training and dedication paid off, when only 10-months after her extensive surgery, Natalie was named the 2012 National Youth Champion in Modern Pentathlon. After having the opportunity to watch the pentathletes train at the Olympic Training Center, Natalie has been hooked to the event. A pentathlon consists of 5 events:
- Shooting a Laser Pistol
- Equestrian (Ages 19 & over)
And this year, 17-year-old Natalie has been named the 2013 National Youth Champion in Modern Pentathlon (a two-time title).
Starting tomorrow, Natalie will begin competing at the Youth World Championships in Wuhan, China. Her brother, Daniel Bowman, started a site to raise awareness of Natalie’s ailment and to collect donations to support her on her trip.
Any amount after the allotted amount is raised will be donated to the National Scoliosis Foundation.
“I believe that Natalie’s story of recovery offers hope to others and needs to be shared. Your donation will allow Natalie to represent our country and encourage those who suffer from scoliosis,” Daniel voiced via the site.
To help Natalie and show your support, visit the link below:
To follow this year’s Youth World Pentathlon Championships, the results can be found here.
Later this fall, Natalie will join the swim team at Iona College, where she will continue swimming.
*All credit to the above video goes to Daniel Bowman, Natalie’s brother.*