TEMPE, Ariz. – The ASU swim and dive season is just getting underway. Many are excited about this year’s season, but none more than senior swimmer Stephen Estes, who at one point, thought he might never swim again.
Stephen joined the Sun Devil swim team as a freshman, and pushed himself to become a key member of the team.
“The word perseverance comes to mind as an adjective to describe Stephen,” says his swim coach Dorsey Tierney.
But a year ago, that perseverance would be tested. Stephen and his brother were helping a stranded motorist on the freeway, when a car struck Stephen, and left him in the ICU with skull, wrist and shoulder injuries.
“The first night when I went to bed, the doctors told us, ‘you know, we know we really need to pay attention to his brain swelling because we might have to cut out part of his skull for that’, so that was kind of freaky to hear right as you're going to bed,” Stephen remembers.
It was a long process for the ASU student to heal from his injuries, and he was forced to take it easy for the next six weeks.
“It's like any other injury with your body. If you hurt your shoulder and keep working it out, it's never going to heal, that's the analogy they gave me with my head. So for six weeks, I wasn't even allowed to go to class,” Stephen recalls.
Stephen finally made it back to class, and back to the pool. And eventually he found himself at the US Olympic trials for the 2012 Olympics.
“You can watch videos of the greatest swimmers, you can read about what they do, but it's really different to spend a week there,” Stephen says. “You can watch them warm up, you can watch them behind the blocks, and you can watch them race from ten feet away.”
This year, Stephen is not taking any time in the pool for granted
“You never know what's going to happen,” Stephen says. “I know everyone says that but it means a lot more when you're back to school one day and the next thing you know, you're not in school for another six weeks.”
Stephen and the Sun Devils are a perfect 3-0 to start the season. The swimming and diving team is off until Dec.16, then they'll host a big race with PAC12 rivals, Utah.