At a meet once in Oklahoma City, summer Sectionals I think, a few of my senior club boys were laughing about being startled by "the guy with one leg." Apparently Jarrett Perry was talking to one of them behind the blocks at warm-up and my swimmer hadn't noticed yet that he had a prosthetic leg until he "popped it off" and jumped in to warm up. It was pretty hilarious, really. One of the kids who had been around a while was trying to describe to them how Jarrett jumps up onto the block and takes his marks for his races. There was no disrespect. They were marveling over how athletic he is and what a great guy he seemed to be.
One of my new fish was really curious about it and wanted to see him swim. Well, of course, in the 100 back that day, they ended up swimming next to each other in the prelim. My guy got schooled. Mind you, this kid was a 53-mid scy backstroker. He was hailed as a hero in our high school swimming conference, and he just got beat by the guy with one leg. I can't put my finger on why, but as a coach, there was something really satisfying about the whole scene.
Jarrett Perry is retiring. This guy has had a heck of a career at WSC and at Colorado Springs, and has been a tremendous inspiration throughout his career. Most people don't know this bit of trivia, but in 2004, his coach at WSC, Eric Nelson, was the first coach ever to put a swimmer on both the USA Olympic and Paralympic teams in the same cycle when Jarrett and Caroline Bruce both earned spots while still in high school. Here is the post from the Missouri Valley LSC website:
Jarrett, an accomplished swimmer and two-time USA Paralympian, has hung up his suit and retired from the sport of swimming. During Jarrett’s years of swimming he has compiled a long list of accomplishments, including: Olympic Gold and Bronze Medalist, World Record Holder (100 and 200 Backstroke), 100 Backstroke World Champion, American Record Holder, and two-time US team captain. If you are not familiar with Jarrett’s story, he was diagnosed at birth with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome and at two days old had one of his legs amputated. Jarrett joined the Wichita Swim Club at age four and competed in his first national-level meet at age ten. From there, Jarrett’s swimming success really took off. Jarrett has been part of the Missouri Valley family since 1991, and has impacted swimmers, parents, coaches and officials with his warm heart and fierce competitive spirit. Missouri Valley is proud of all Jarrett has accomplished and the positive way he has represented the sport of swimming, the Wichita Swim Club, and Missouri Valley!