Seeing Gold: A Blind Soldier Swims to Win

© iStockphoto/Thinkstock
This summer, America has an extraordinary opportunity to cheer on one of our country’s wounded warriors, Lt. Bradley Snyder, as he swims for the gold at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

I was deeply moved by author Bill Briggs’ inspiring three-part piece on the 28-year-old Navy lieutenant, who was serving in Afghanistan as an “explosive ordinance demolition specialist”—military jargon for “bomb defuser”—last fall. After rushing to the aid of two wounded Afghan soldiers, he was blinded by an IED blast.

During his recovery, Snyder sought comfort from the frustrations of physical therapy in the smoothness of his swimming strokes. He began training for the Paralympic Games, both to challenge other blind swimmers and to prove that his newfound obstacle would not break his spirit.

The way Snyder makes his way across the pool in complete darkness is nothing short of remarkable. He keeps silent count of his strokes to maintain a steady pace, and will occasionally brush his fingers against the lane line to ascertain his position. Snyder’s brother and coach act as his “tappers” on each side of the lane, gently tapping the swimmer on the back of the head with a padded walking cane to signal a flip turn or finishing kick.

At the swimming trials this past weekend Snyder shattered his personal best in the 400-meter freestyle, setting a new world record in the event for fully blind swimmers and securing his spot on the 2012 U.S. Paralympic team. He’ll be joining over 30 military veterans and active-duty soldiers competing in the Paralympics this summer.

Photo: © iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.