University of Lynchburg swimmer Madelyn White ’26 won gold in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke SB8 at the 2023 Parapan American Games in Santiago over the weekend.
Confidence, confusion, relief, then pure joy. The emotional rollercoaster White went through to learn she, indeed, was the 100-meter breaststroke champion at the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023 is what made her moment special.
As the reigning Parapan Am champion of the women’s 100m breaststroke SB8, White was in full command of her race and touched the wall four seconds faster than her next competitor. But then she saw a DQS.
Having waited all week to swim her marquee event, White had to wait a few more hours to learn if her result would be reinstated after her team’s appeal.
It was all worth the wait.
“My heartbeat is going so fast right now,” White said. “I was really, really upset at first because this was a race that I trained for the past three years ever since [the 2019 Parapan Ammerican Games in] Lima ended.”
“To repeat the gold is the best feeling you can ever have. And I’m so thankful to my teammates, my coaches, all the staff who have helped me get through this week. It’s been a long week, and I’m just relieved.”
White also won a bronze medal in the 400-meter freestyle S9.
White competes on Lynchburg’s women’s swimming team, swimming against what she calls, “able-bodied athletes.” SB8 and S9 are competition categories for para athletes, which the International Paralympic Committee defines as “a general term for pro and amateur athletes with disabilities.” In White’s case, her right leg was amputated above the knee due to proximal femoral focal deficiency, a birth defect in which the upper thigh bone is missing or malformed.
The Hornets won a pair of dual meets in the fall semester, defeating Sweet Briar and Bridgewater. White has competed in events for the Hornets, such as the 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard freestyle.
Team USA added 12 medals on that final day, including three golds for their best performance of the week.
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