John F. Russell: Amy Brodie overcoming challenges, wondering if there is more
May 9, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Swimmer Amy Brodie is used to overcoming challenges in the swimming pool. It didn't matter if it was an opponent in the lane next to her, or if she had to find ways to stay in top physical shape when the weather outside kept her out of the pool.
Amy was introduced to competitive swimming as a young child growing up in a ski town, and she got used to spending most of her summer months reaching for her goals in the Old Town Hot Springs pool and taking a break in the winter.
She tried swimming year-round, once, but admits she didn't enjoy the cold temperatures outside or trying to squeeze her workouts into Steamboat's short winter days.
She will be the first to tell you the waters have not always been smooth.
Sure, Steamboat Springs's outdoor pool is great, but the fact that it's outside in a town that sees snow from late November through May can be limiting. When you consider that, along with the fact that Steamboat Springs High School doesn't offer a varsity program for girls, the idea of swimming at college seemed crazy.
But that didn't stop Amy.
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Growing up, she consistently set new marks in the pool and led her age division in regional, state and sectional meets. When she was older, Amy drove to Craig a couple of times per week where she represented rival Moffat County High School in the pool.
Her results were so good, that Colorado Mesa University took a chance on her and offered her a scholarship in 2012.
It was a great opportunity for a swimmer from Steamboat. Finally, she would get the chance to swim on a regular basis for more than only a few months.
But, the waters are not always smooth. And they turned rough for Amy as she entered her junior year at Mesa.
The stress of swimming took a toll on Amy, and by December, her shoulder was in constant pain, and she could not raise her arm above her head. Doctors decided she needed surgery to repair the damage, and she decided the time had come to get healthy for her senior year.
But the surgery turned out to be the first of several setbacks for the swimmer. While she was recovering, Amy started running a fever, and after several days of extreme stomach pain, she decided to go to the doctor. Shortly thereafter, she was back in the hospital to have her gallbladder removed.
"It was like I had a rock over my stomach," Amy said.
The surgery went fine, but back-to-back surgeries had took their toll. But the final blow came when doctors discovered she had a staph infection.
"I was so sick that I had to leave school and couldn't attend classes," she said.
Amy eventually had to come home, drop her class load and miss the second half of her junior year. It was even worse, because she didn't have enough credits and lost her spot on the varsity swim team.
Antibiotics, and time, helped her overcome the staff infection and allowed her body to heal. She returned to class for her senior year, but it seemed as if that her swimming career had run its course.
It appeared to be a disappointing ending, but for Amy, the story didn't end there.
Earlier this year, Amy was contacted by a club coach at the university who asked if she would be willing to come help a few of the relay teams that he was sending to the East Coast Collegiate Swim & Dive Club National Championships in early April.
The commitment was not as demanding as it had been when Amy was swimming with the NCAA team, so she got back in the pool and started training again. The gamble paid off for the local swimmer in April, when she helped the club team at Colorado Mesa University bring home first-place finishes in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the 400-yard medley relay, the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay. The Grand Junction school also collected a silver medal in the 800-yard freestyle relay.
Amy anchored all of the relay teams, and she also managed to bring home third-place finishes in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events.
As a school, Colorado Mesa University finished third in the women's results and fourth overall despite being one of the smallest teams at the meet.
But the finishes proved to be more than only bragging rights for the girl who grew up in Steamboat. Her times were better than before she injured her shoulder, and the results were a chance for Amy to recapture some of what she had lost in a few short years.
"I've swam in Steamboat since I was 12, and I was excited to go to college to see how far I could go. I was thrilled to get an opportunity to compete at the highest level," Amy said. "I was ranked nationally as a freshman, but after my junior year, I felt like I would never reach my potential."
But after the national meet, Amy proved she has what it takes. She will return to Colorado Mesa University in the fall to wrap up her final few credits with a year of eligibity left.
"I'm satisfied with how I swam, and if this turns out to be my last meet, I will be happy," Amy said. "If the opportunity comes, I might get back in the pool and see what happens. I will always wonder if I have more in me — I guess that's just a part of my nature."