Iowa teen is first para swimmer to qualify for state meet



Isaiah Picard used to be terrified of the water as a toddler, but now he spends more than ten hours a week in the pool training. The 15-year-old Indianola freshman is making history as the first-ever para swimmer to qualify for the state meet. Picard was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that means he can’t use his legs. Instead, Picard solely relies on his upper body di lui to propel him in the water. “My hips are about at this angle from my torso which creates a lot of drag, extra drag as I am going through the water so it is hard,” Picard said. . “The kid comes in every day for practice with a smile, asking what can I do? How do I do it? How do I fix it?” Shepherd said. Picard made history on Feb. 5 at the district competition in Johnston when he completed the 100-meter freestyle and 100-meter breaststroke in the para division, qualifying him for the state meet on Feb. 12 in Iowa City. This is the first year Iowa has a para swimming division. Shepherd advocated on Isaiah’s behalf with the Iowa High School Athletic Association to create the new division so all athletes could compete. “I am just trying to make the playing field equal for those individuals to continue to swim with what they can do,” Shepherd said .Picard is the first and only swimmer in the para division so he won’t have any competition at the state meet, but he hopes his story inspires others to compete in the future. “I am happy that mainly this is just a possibility for anybody now with disabilities,” Picard said. “He doesn’t realize that he is a leader already by stepping forward and opening the door for everybody else,” Shepherd said. More stories from Laura Terrell:

Isaiah Picard used to be terrified of the water as a toddler, but now he spends more than ten hours a week in the pool training. The 15-year-old Indianola freshman is making history as the first-ever para swimmer to qualify for the state meet.

Picard was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that means he can’t use his legs. Instead, Picard solely relies on his upper body di lui to propel him in the water.

“My hips are about at this angle from my torso which creates a lot of drag, extra drag as I am going through the water so it is hard,” Picard said.

Despite the challenges he faces, Picard’s coach Bobby Shepherd says he never complains.

“The kid comes in every day for practice with a smile, asking what can I do? How do I do it? How do I fix it?” Shepherd said.

Picard made history on Feb. 5 at the district competition in Johnston when he completed the 100-meter freestyle and 100-meter breaststroke in the para division, qualifying him for the state meet on Feb. 12 in Iowa City.

This is the first year Iowa has a para swimming division. Shepherd advocated on Isaiah’s behalf with the Iowa High School Athletic Association to create the new division so all athletes could compete.

“I am just trying to make the playing field equal for those individuals to continue to swim with what they can do,” Shepherd said.

Picard is the first and only swimmer in the para division so he won’t have any competition at the state meet, but he hopes his story inspires others to compete in the future.

“I am happy that mainly this is just a possibility for anybody now with disabilities,” Picard said.

“He doesn’t realize that he is a leader already by stepping forward and opening the door for everybody else,” Shepherd said.

More stories from Laura Terrell:


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