Athlete changes sports focus after serious wreck

(WBIR-North Knox County) Swimming is something Bill Brinson used to do as part of triathlons: races with swimming, cycling, and running.

"I enjoyed doing triathlons, I did a couple of Iron Man races, I've done some adventure races but I really liked running. Running was my favorite," he said.

It was his favorite but he can't do it anymore. He takes us back to a bicycle ride in July 2012.

"There was three of us riding together. I was in the front. A van went around the two people behind me and then hit me and I went to the ground.I broke my hip, I shattered my pelvis, broke my collarbone, and what they call the traumatic brain injury," he said.

He was in the hospital and then endured months of physical therapy. His focus from long distance running helped him through it. Then he needed something to take the place of running.

"I didn't want to sit around. I didn't want to perhaps mope. I wanted to get back to something and swimming has been a great outlet for me and I am so thankful I am able to do it," he said. "Three to four days a week a group of us guys meet in the mornings at 5:00 in the morning and we swim for about an hour and a half."

The regular workouts at Tennova Health and Fitness on Emory Road evolved into something more.

"I remember seeing something about the Senior Olympics and I thought that sounds good and it also gave me a goal to look forward to so I had maybe about a six month window and so I started training for the Senior Olympics and they held the regional Senior Olympics in Gatlinburg that year," he said.

He won one silver medal and two gold medals.

They were the 50 meter freestyle, the hundred meter freestyle, and the 200 meter freestyle," he said.

In the next year or so he would like to compete again in the Senior Olympics.

"Also my long range goal is in four to five years is to swim the English Channel," he said.

He's embraced a new sport, kept his competitive edge, and made the most of a terrible turn of events.

"I've learned to appreciate things more. It's slowed me down where I can appreciate things. If I had to find a silver lining that would be it," he said.

A few months before the bike wreck, Bill took a bus to Chattanooga then ran back to Knoxville!


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