Swimmer Lt. Brad Snyder has been honored by the United States Sports Academy with its 2012 Juan Antonio Samaranch Disabled Athlete Award.
Snyder was a newcomer to the Paralympic scene in 2012, though certainly not to swimming. The 28-year old is a veteran of the United States Navy, and in September of 2011, he lost both eyes after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan. After losing his vision, in an attempt to find some normalcy, he returned to a sport where decades of muscle memory outweighed his need for sight: swimming. During his time at the United States Naval Academy, Snyder was a captain of the swim team.
In London, he won two gold medals in the S11 division for swimmers who are totally blind: the 100 free (in a new Paralympic Record) and the 400 free. He also took silver in the 50 free in a new American Record of 25.27.
Snyder’s story reaches out to so many different corners of the American community: war veterans, disabled veterans, disabled athletes, and swimmers of all shapes and sizes. He was presented the award at a US Naval Academy swim meet.
The honor is named for the former Spanish president of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch. It is given globally for an athlete who displays courage, desire, and athletic ability in the face of diversity.