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Holt sets goals high after back injury

Senior Aaron Holt swims the backstroke at practice Dec. 16. Holt is the team captain.  Photo by Ian Magnuson.
Senior Aaron Holt swims the backstroke at practice Dec. 16. Holt is the team captain.
Photo by Ian Magnuson.

Back stroke to back injury, Aaron Holt never let surgery break his moral or drive to make his senior year of swimming his best.

“It was April 2013, the end of my sophomore year, and I was playing a fun intermural softball game,” said Holt. “I took a swing, ran to first base, came up and knew something was wrong; I got a MRI about a month later and found out I had a bulging disc in my back.”

Holt swam his entire junior season hurt, putting his pain on the backburner, using cortisone shots to help with any discomfort. However, last year at conference something unusual happened.

“During the final for the 100 back stroke, I was coming off the wall for the last 25 and I couldn’t feel my legs,” said Holt. “I lost complete power, and I looked up at my parents after the race and didn’t know what had happened.”

After this instance, Holt preceded to get another MRI during the spring of his junior year, which revealed that he needed surgery to finally repair his torn disc. Holt then traveled to Tampa, Fla., that summer to have his tear fixed by a laser and spine institute.

Holt was relieved to know that the doctors were able to remove part of his herniated disc, but he was also nervous for the future and senior year of swimming.

“After conference last year, I honestly thought I was going to have to hang up my goggles and not swim anymore,” said Holt. “I definitely thought this injury was a negative impact at one point.”

But, now Holt said that this surgery is helping him to accomplish more than he has been able to do in the past couple of years.

“The surgery has made me cautious, but I know I can do anything now, and that drives me.” said Holt. “I have a new kind of passion and fearlessness, and realized that my back injury was holding me back my junior year, which has made me a good kind of angry, one that lit a fire under me.”

This fire has helped Holt snatch individual and relay wins this season, helping him to move closer to his goals of making it to nationals and hopefully, the 2016 Olympic trials.

“I have been close to making the cut for nationals the past couple of years but haven’t been able to,” said Holt. “I would like to go and place in the top 16, but our relays also have a good shot of making it, and I would rather share a national title with them then to do it individually.”

As senior leader and captain, Holt said, whether it’s showing perseverance from an injury or being a leader in general, he enjoys serving his team and being that positive influence for his teammates to look up to.

“Aaron leads by example, always has a positive attitude, and is in the gym a lot,” said first-year swimmer and relay teammate, Jack Speechley. “He has taken the steps to get back in shape from his back injury and has been kicking butt for us since then.”

Speechley, although only a first-year, found out about Holt’s former injury coming into his first year of swimming and has been in relay teams with Holt, too.

As a first-year, Speechley said he looks up to Holt as captain.

“Aaron always has a positive attitude when swimming in general, heand is supportive of everyone else,” said Speechley. He shows me how I should act.”