Elena and Peyton have the same passion: swimming
Elena began swimming when she was 10 years old at the suggestion of her orthopedic surgeon while her brother, Peyton, was fighting cancer. She loved the sport instantly and found the water relieved the stress of life’s curveballs and the pain her scoliosis sometimes caused.
Elena excelled instantly in backstroke. Her long arms made her look like a water ballerina. She was so graceful when she swam that her stroke looked like a work of art.
When it was time to sign up for summer swim league the next year, Elena easily glided across the pool, demonstrating all four strokes with the style she had previously demonstrated. Peyton’s left arm was paralyzed, but he wanted to try out for the swim team, too. He attempted to swim across the pool every day during the week of tryouts. His right arm would easily make a freestyle stroke, but his left arm dragged along lifelessly in the water. Sadly, after attempting to swim across the pool for five consecutive days, he was unable to make the swim team.
Elena continued swimming with great ease and agility. Her efforts to improve her stroke and times were immediate and continual. She was committed to swimming faster and longer, so she asked if she could join a swim team that offered swim all year long.
When she signed up to be in USA Swimming, she immediately began looking at cut off times in order to move up in groups and receive a more challenging workout.
Peyton tried to join the USA Swimming team three times, but again, he wasn’t able to swim the length of the pool due to hemiparesis, or weakness on one side.
The following May, after eight failures and the paralysis subsiding, Peyton finally made the swim team. He easily glided across the water for 25 yards and hopped out of the pool with a smile as wide as Texas.
Both Elena and Peyton would go on to excel in all four strokes for years in Battleground Area Swim Team, Deer Park High School Aquatics, Deer Park Seals and Bonnette Junior High. Elena was the district champion while at Bonnette. Peyton was also the district champion and broke the school record in butterfly.
They competed in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympics in 2016 earning medals and deciding to strive to improve their times in the 2017 State Games of America and AAU Junior Olympics. Who would have guessed that a kid with a paralyzed arm would get to participate in national swimming events?
In the months leading up to the 2017 State Games and Junior Olympics, Peyton began having shoulder pain. He started physical therapy (PT) at a location not affiliated with Texas Children’s Hospital. After a month of PT, he recovered and resumed his normal activity level. Within weeks though, his shoulder became irritated once again. This time, Dr. Chorley, sports medicine physician, noted the return of worsening symptoms and Peyton began PT with Nick Purcell at Texas Children’s. Peyton worked intently on gaining a full and complete recovery. During this time, Elena also began having shoulder pain. After an appointment with Dr. Chorley, it was recommended that she begin PT with Nick as well.
Both kids worked diligently in PT and implemented their home exercise program outside of Texas Children’s. Their coach, Chris Moralez, implemented the plan to complete their recovery prior to the Junior Olympics and State Games.
The kids went on to medal in the State Games of America and earn places in the finals during the Junior Olympics. Elena was involved in the most exciting swim off. Watching her come from behind to catch up to her competitor got the entire audience screaming and cheering.
Without the help of Nick and the coaches, Elena and Peyton could not have succeeded at the State Games and Junior Olympics.