As swimming competitions wrap up in the Olympics, Paralympians are preparing to head to Toyko for their chance at a medal.
We caught up with a world champion swimmer on Team USA. Sophia Herzog has really been putting in the laps, training in her hometown pool in Colorado for the Paralympics.
"The Paralympics start on August 24th, so I'm still training pretty hard I have a couple of weeks left to train hard before we start easing up on the intensity," explains Sophia.
Sophia was born with a form of dwarfism. Early on, her parents instilled their love of athletics, so she comes by it rightly.
"I'm an only child to two fairly competitive parents," Sophia said. "My dad was a long-distance runner and my mom was a mountain biker, so they pushed me in academics and sports."
Sophia has been competitively swimming since she was 10-years old. And while her journey didn't start out in swimming, her dedication to the sport has paid off.
"I was actually a skier growing up because I live in Colorado, but then I was running into some knee issues, so we switched over to swimming, and I showed some potential," she said. "I've been in the top of the world rankings for five or six years and top three in the world rankings for my main events, so it's taken a lot of hard work and dedication and I'm proud of it."
Sophia realizes there is life after competitive swimming and has been preparing for her future when she retires from the water, which she plans to do after the Paralympics.
"DeVry University is the USA's official education provider, so I went to college through them and they're super incredible that they can do online schooling, so I did all of my college education online, and I was able to manipulate my schedule where, during my off-season in training and competing, I would do a ton of classes, and then during my competitive season, I would just do one or two easier classes," she explained. "I graduated in the Fall of 2019 with a bachelor's in business communications and became one of 215 Team USA athlete alumni."
A bright future ahead, but for now her sight is set on Tokyo.
"I'm really trying to not set any expectations on what Tokyo should be for me," Sophia said with a smile. "Obviously, I'd love to come home with a medal for my country and represent Team USA on the podium, but just going to the Paralympics, in general, is a huge honor in itself and I'm excited that I was named on to the team."
For more information on the Paralympics click here. You can also learn more about Devry University's programs here.
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