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Not just treading water: Isaac to compete in paralympic meet in Cincinnati

Published 11:00am Thursday, May 9, 2013 Updated 10:18am Thursday, May 9, 2013

Moving through the pool, it’s hard to notice that anything is different in Dan Isaac’s swimming style. The 12-year-old moves through the water with the same competitive enthusiasm that most young swimmers have.

The difference is Dan is unable to use his legs.

At eight month’s old, Dan was diagnosed with an unknown virus that attacked his muscles, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. With the help of rehabilitation, Dan was able to gain control of most of his upperbody by six years of age and was able to use arm crutches to move around.

About four years ago, Fergus Falls swim coach Tom Uvaas encouraged Dan’s parents, Jeff and Missi, to get Dan into the pool.

“Mr. Uvaas has been such a big encouragement,” Missi said. “He just kept pushing to have Dan swim. We enrolled him a few years ago in lessons and after a brief hiatus, Mr. Uvaas approached us in the fall to get Dan swimming again.

“Dan ranks in my top ten list of athletes with passion and drive,” Uvaas said. “He inspired me to get it done.”

Since then, Uvaas has worked with Dan once a week at the Kennedy Secondary School Pool and creates a training regimen for him to swim four other days at the YMCA.

Dan began swimming again in November of last year and had made great strides. Missi wanted her son to be able to compete in meets and scoured the internet looking for meets that fit his ability.

Missi found a paralympic meet hosted by the Greater Toledo Aquatic Club in Cincinnati on May 10-11.

“Dan’s really positive, but swimming is a fun challenge for him,” Missi said. “He has three brothers, so he comes from a group that likes to compete.”

Dan and his family will travel south, where he will be tested Friday to place him in the correct division. On Saturday, we will dive in the pool for the first time competing against like individuals.

RDO, Otter Tail Power, Service Food, Synstelien Community Services and two private donors will help fund the trip.

“The thing I look forward to the most is the experience,” Dan said. “Just being able to compete against like individuals will be fun.”

Dan does have a bit of nerves, but he said he would just shake it off and get in the pool.

It might be the easiest thing for him to overcome.

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