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Switzer to compete in Disabled Water Ski World Championships

Sarah Switzer, a junior at James Clemens High School, will compete in the 13th annual Disabled Water Ski World Championships. CONTRIBUTED
Sarah Switzer, a junior at James Clemens High School, will compete in the 13th annual Disabled Water Ski World Championships. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – Sarah Switzer, a junior at James Clemens High School, will compete with the 2017 U.S. Disabled Water Ski team in the 13th annual Disabled Water Ski World Championships.

Switzer will enter the competition on April 27-30 in Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia. The Water Skiers with Disabilities Association, a sports discipline organization of USA Water Ski, selected Switzer for this honor.

Officials announced the team selection after the 2016 Disabled Water Ski National Championships held in Harmony, N.C. in October 2016. Switzer skied well at nationals, earning gold in women’s seated slalom, silver in jump, bronze in tricks and silver overall.

Switzer’s work in the world championship will be the first time that she was participated on the U.S. team, which is vying for an unprecedented fifth consecutive world championship.

Switzer, who was born with spina bifida, was featured in a 1999 “Life” magazine article as “the girl born twice” after going through a controversial and experimental surgery. At 23 weeks, she was removed her from her mother’s uterus, operated on and returned to the womb for another two months before being born the second time. 

The iconic photo of the doctor placing Sarah’s arm back in the womb remains featured in online blogs of famous photos.

In addition to water skiing, Switzer plays wheelchair basketball for the Ability Sports Network with the Chargers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She enjoys hunting, fishing and reading. She also has volunteered at a local veterinary clinic and Kids Camp with Madison Police Department.

With the World Championship scheduled in April, skiers must practice throughout the winter to provide their best performance. Like most athletes, Switzer will need to travel to warm water areas to ski.

Each athlete must pay for their own training camps, air travel, accommodations, uniforms and entry fees at a cost of nearly $5,000 per athlete. Switzer is seeking assistance with a GoFund me site, as well as directly on the team’s website USskiTEAM2017.com, which accepts donations via PayPal and allows the public to participate in drawings to help the skiers.

“DisAbled” skiing has the same events and rules as able-bodied (slalom, tricks and jumping). Within each event, athletes are grouped into the three categories of seated (paraplegics, quadriplegics and double leg amputees), standing (arm and/or leg disabilities with or without prosthesis) and vision impaired (partially or totally blind).

The Water Skiers with Disabilities Association is one of nine sport divisions of USA Water Ski. USA Water Ski was formed in 1939 as a non-profit organization. USA Water Ski is recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and Pan-American Sports Organization as the national governing body of organized water skiing and wakeboarding in the United States.

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