JEFFERSON COUNTY - A Carson-Newman University swimmer is bringing home a bronze medal for Team USA at the Paralympics.
Robert Griswold took third in the men's S8 100-meter backstroke Tuesday night with a time of 1:04.68.
Griswold, who was born with cerebral palsy, defied the odds to compete at the college level. His coach at Carson-Newman, Jordan Taylor, said Griswold had his sights set on Rio de Janeiro and beyond.
"He said, 'I will be on the podium at Rio. That's is what I've been working for,'" Taylor said. "And all that work has paid off."
Griswold was considered a favorite coming into the event. The 19-year-old swimmer holds the world record in the S8 200-meter backstroke with a time of 2:22.04, and also won a bronze medal in the 400-meter freestyle at the 2015 World Championships.
His teammates at Carson-Newman held a watch party at the campus library to watch Griswold face off against some of the best in the world.
"When you train with him all the time and you see how hard he works for it and how much he wants it, it's just incredible to see all that work pay off for him," said swim team member Ben McCrary.
Griswold is expected to return to Carson-Newman in January after his run at the Paralympics, and his teammates said they cannot wait for him to be back on campus so they can celebrate.
"I'm so excited to see him and celebrate what he's done," said Joshua Terrell, a Carson-Newman swimmer.
Griswold set a goal for himself to go to the Paralympics, Taylor said, but even more than that, he said Griswold wanted to be on the podium to make his country proud.
"He always wanted to medal, and that was his big target was to get on the podium at the Paralympics," Taylor said. "He's got his dream."
(© 2016 WBIR)