Army Sweeps Swimming Finals

By SSG Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom

MSG Rhoden Galloway after the swimming finals. He won four of the Army’s fifteen medals, three of them are first place finishes.

The Army athletes came to the finals focused on one thing, a medal. Little did they know they would be taking home 15. The swim team proved they are a force to be reckoned with after winning four gold, three silver, and eight bronze medals in the swimming finals during the 2011 Warrior Games.

“What we did was phenomenal,” said Holly Roselle, the Army’s swimming coach. “They came together this week and supported each other. Nice work.”

“They did things they hadn’t done before,” Roselle said. “They really stepped up and performed at a higher level.”

From Wednesday’s preliminaries to Friday’s finals, many of the finalists decreased their swim times by seconds, which helped them seal the win in a couple of swim meets.

“Many of them did better than they thought they would,” Roselle added. “We actually won more than we were slated to coming into the finals.”

MSG Rhoden Galloway, who won three of the four gold medals and one of the silver medals, agrees with Roselle.

“After you’re injured, you’re told you can’t do things and that’s crushing,” said Galloway. “Knowing you’ll never be able to run again, especially being in the military where you have to complete physical fitness tests, being able to run is important. Having the chance to swim gave us a chance to compete in adaptive sports again.”

The Army’s swimming medals are broken down as follows:

MSG Rhoden Galloway – 3 Gold, 1 Silver
SSG Kenny Griffith – 1 Bronze
SPC Michael Grover – 1 Bronze
SPC Andy Kingsley – 1 Silver, 2 Bronze
SSG Stefanie Mason – 1 Gold, 1 Bronze
SFC Landon Ranker – 1 Silver, 1 Bronze
CPL Harrison Ruzicka – 1 Silver, 1 Bronze
SPC Galen Ryan – 2 Silver
SGT Gavin Sibayan – 1 Bronze

Congratulations to all winners and to all who participated.

The day is now over. The swim goggles are hung up or folded away. These nine athletes will never forget last week. They showed that an illness or injury would not stop them from setting and reaching a goal, and they have the medals to prove it.

 

Finals are Only the Beginning

By SSG Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom

BG Darryl Williams stands with SPC Andy Kingsley, his family, and several members of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, NC.

The tears rolled freely from her eyes onto the ground with a splash similar to the splashes of her nephew leaving the diving board to slice into the cool, crystal clear water at the Aquatics Center pool. Sandi Thomas was proud to say SPC Andy Kingsley was her nephew.

The Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) Solider, a field artilleryman with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, NC, was severely injured when he and his 13-Soldier artillery unit were attacked by a bombardment of mortars at a location about 50 miles from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

When the mortars started, he rushed to a nearby shelter. Looking back, seeing the other members of his squad trailing, he stepped back out of the bunker to direct them inside. As the last Soldier entered the bunker, a mortar round exploded, launching Kingsley through the air.

Kingsley, a devoted high school wrestling and football athlete, did not let losing his right leg above the knee and suffering several other injuries, derail his opportunity to play and compete in sports. The Warrior Games gives him a chance to show not only himself, but everyone else, that if you try hard enough–you have no limits.

SPC Andy Kingsley after he finished one of his swimming races during the 2011 Warrior Games.

“When I was injured, I thought normal life was out of the question for me, and now look at me,” he said.

The three days a week swimming and strength training Kingsley did at the Warrior Transition Unit before the games helped him during his 50-meter freestyle, 50-meter backstroke, and 100-meter freestyle swimming events at the 2011 Warrior Games.

During the swimming preliminaries, he qualified in all three events and is heading to the finals proving that his hard work, training, and dedication paid off.

Along with the support from his Family, Kingsley also has the support from his previous unit. More than 20 Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division showed up to cheer him on during his competition.

Kingsley plans to return to Massachusetts and pursue a degree in zoology where he would like to work  training service dogs and other service animals for wounded warriors.

He also plans to start a youth organization to provide children positive time-tested ways to have fun while avoiding unnecessary conflict. This organization will incorporate the seven Army’s core values which he feels are essential in guiding children to be better citizens and keeping them mentally focused and physically healthy.

For now, he focused on the goal at hand. As the whistle blew, Kingsley’s aunt and grandmother Annie’s eyes froze on Kingsley. The hand-drawn sign stating ”Go for the gold Kingfish” was raised high in the air, moving from side to side. They knew Kingsley was in his element as he swam to the finish line.

 

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