Adversity tests more than just the physical tools of an athlete.|
It's a combination of determination, mental toughness and heart that ultimately define what separates the best.
During this high school swim season, Moline's Allison Patch and Rock Island's Kelly Bishop had their passions tested in the water.
During the Rock Island Sectional, both senior swimmers emerged strengthened by their wins and stand ready to face their final test at the state meet today.
While Patch and Bishop have been two of the elite swimmers in the Western Big 6 over the past four seasons, this season's state trip came as a surprise for both.
Patch had been struggling with scoliosis this season and suffered a flareup just a week prior to sectionals at the Western Big 6 meet.
"It has made me more susceptible to getting strains in my back," Patch said. "Having to use those fast-twitch muscles in my back for the starts, kicking and sprints irritate my back."
Patch wouldn't be slowed at sectionals, though, swimming a season-best time on her way to a state berth in the 100-yard backstroke (1:01.01).
Patch has used about every available measure to alleviate the pain, including massages, bio-freeze and muscle relaxers, but never gave up on the sport.
"You do whatever it takes to get what you want," Patch said. "This is something that I've been looking forward to ever since I watched Bryce Bohman, Alexa Harris in 2009. I've looked up to all of these swimmers, and I've always wanted to be a part of that legacy, so a little scoliosis is not going to hold me back."
Patch was excited to represent Moline, the Western Big 6 and longtime friend and teammate Brianna Hutchings, who missed this season with a shoulder injury.
Bishop, who had missed time in the pool earlier this season, came down with a fever of 104 degrees just a few days prior to her sectional swim.
Her hopes seemed bleak, but somehow Bishop managed to burn up the water at the Rock Island pool and had her best swim of the season (59.62) to win the 100 butterfly.
The emotion came flooding out of Bishop, who couldn't believe her own performance.
"It's like the whole world is spinning," Bishop said. "I can't get a grip on anything, and I know that I'm prouder than I've ever been before."
At the state meet, both Patch and Bishop come in as underdogs.
Yet after a season of overcoming obstacles, the duo look to buck the odds one more time.
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