Washington & Lee Swimmer Suffers Spinal Cord Injury on Vacation in Alabama

Washington and Lee University freshman swimmer Devin Bateman is undergoing rehab after suffering a spinal cord injury on April 17.

The 18-year old Bateman was on vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama on April 17 when he dove into the water in the ocean head-first. He hit his head and lost motor control.

He was airlifted to Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, where he underwent surgery. He was diagnosed with a C5 spinal cord injury and at present does not have the use of his legs.

He will now undergo rehab at the Sheppard Center in Atlanta, Georgia for 7 to 8 weeks before returning home to Fredericksburg, Virginia.

A fundraiser has been started by family friends to help support his medical bills and the cost of his rehab. As of posting, more than $84,000 has been given by 778 donors.

Bateman grew up in Virginia training with multiple club teams, including the Rappahannock Y Swim Team, Regency Park Swim Team, and most recently the Nation’s Capital Swim Club (NCAP): the country’s largest club team.

He swam scholastically in high school at Stafford Senior High, where as a senior he was the VHSL runner-up in the 100 yard fly (50.72) and 3rd-place finisher in the 50 free (21.40). He also swam on title-winning 200 medley and 200 free relays in 2021.

In his freshman season at Division III Washington and Lee University, he was a three-time individual finalist. He placed 3rd in the 100 fly, 4th in the 50 free, and 7th in the 200 fly.

He was part of an impressive freshman class for the Generals that led the team to a conference title in February. The team finished 1-2-3 in the 100 fly, including fellow freshman Reese Nelson placing 2nd.

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Spencer Adrian
1 year ago

Sending prayers Devin’s way.

This is possibly one of the scariest stories I’ve ever heard. I had a similar event happen to me but ended up walking out of the water. I was in a neck brace for 6 months but I have been able to swim since then and now swim for LSU. I know how scary this is and I’m so thankful that I did not end up getting seriously injured.

I share this story because with prayers and perseverance, I believe Devin can climb back from this. Stay strong brother!

1 year ago

Sending prayers for Devin from Fredericksburg (Spotsylvania County). My children were swimmers when they were young and swam with the RSL and my son swam with Regency Swim League. It takes dedication to be a swimmer. May your hard work and dedication push you through your recovery at rehab. Many many prayers for you young man. Washington and Lee is my best friend’s Alma Mater. She is a retired Lawyer now. I wish you as much success in life as she has had!!

1 year ago

Former swimmer here who recently went through some time at Shepherd Center after being hit by a car while cycling. I’ve been fortunate that my recovery has gone well to this point. The doctors, nurses, and therapists at Shepherd are awesome people who know what they are doing and who care about their patients. If Devin can tap what he’s learned from swimming about hard work and discipline, it will help him in his recovery process, which is a lot of hard work. I hope and pray the best for him and his recovery process.

1 year ago

Please Lord heal this man

1 year ago

The human body is capable of great feats, but it’s also incredibly fragile and precious. I have an extensive history of head injuries (I’ve had 6-7 concussions). I’m fortunate to be able to lead a normal life, but It’s pretty scary sometimes not knowing whether or not I’ll be okay when I’m older, or if I’ll get Alzheimer’s or something. With that being said, I can’t even come close to comprehending the terror and despair of not knowing whether or not you’ll be able to walk again. From the bottom of my heart, I hope Bateman makes a full recovery and is able to get back to doing what he loves.

Last edited 1 year ago by BadShoulder
1 year ago

A young person in a life altering type accident is always just so devastating.

Big Mac #1
Reply to  Riccardo
1 year ago

I think anyone in a life altering accident is just so devastating

1 year ago

I coached an athlete who had this happen in high school. Thankfully they regained most of their leg function with rehab, but it was a long struggle. This is how Katie McLaughlin broke her neck as well.

I hope Devin can regain function in his legs. Hopefully people can be more educated on the dangers of diving into shallow water, even more so when there’s visibility issues.

Barb Matheson
1 year ago

Praying for this young man and his family ❤️

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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