Monday, July 16, 2012

Bentonville's Gage Crosby Shot in Eye, Swims at Olympic Trials

            Growing up, Gage Crosby was just like a normal American boy, playing baseball and soccer. However, a “one in a million” accident caused the rising Bentonville senior to stray from the norm.
            When Crosby was in 5th grade, his brother, rising freshman Jared, and him were playing with BB guns. Jared shot a BB into the air, and when it came back down to Earth, it hit Gage in the eye.
            “I screamed for my brother to get my mom. [The pain] was pretty bad,” Crosby said. “It was like my whole eye and head hurt.”
            He was rushed to the emergency room, where the BB fell out of his eye. Luckily, the only lasting damage caused by the accident is that his eyes are permanently dilated, meaning his pupil does not shrink or grow with more or less light.
            Also because of the accident, he had to give up contact sports.
            “If I get hit too hard, my iris could detach, which isn’t good,” Crosby said.
            The accident ended his baseball and soccer playing days, so his mom “forced” him to participate in swimming. Although he hated it initially, the sport grew on him.
            “Once I started going to meets and got to know everyone on the team, I started enjoying it more,” Crosby said.
            Now that Crosby has been swimming for seven years, he loves the sport more than ever.
            “It’s fun at times and it can be really painful. You have to like the pain,” Crosby said. “Also, everyone on the team is fun to be around. It’s a good atmosphere.”
            As well as being a member of the Bentonville swim team, where he has won four individual state championships and three team state championships in three years, he is also a member of the Razorback Aquatic Club AquaHawgs.
            Scott Berry, his coach with the AquaHawgs, puts him through brutal two-a-day practices every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the summer. Even during his off days, he must maintain a large, but healthy, diet.
            “You have to eat healthy,” Crosby said. “It’s just like putting gas in your car. If you put crappy gas in your car, it’s going to damage the engine.”
            All of his training and dieting came to a peak this June, when he went to Omaha, Neb. and competed at the Olympic Trials. He dropped his times in the 100 meter breaststroke (dropped one and a half seconds- 1:03.61) and in the 200 meter breaststroke (dropped two seconds- 2:17.66), finishing 52nd out of 141 and 46th out of 129, respectively.
            More than his improved times though, Crosby was excited to compete in a true swimming environment.
            “It was an amazing experience,” Crosby said. “I’ve never been to a meet like that, where it was kind of like a rock concert or a football game. Everyone was excited about swimming.”
            However, don’t expect him to be content with his performance in Omaha. After high school, Crosby plans to swim collegiately. Several top programs have already contacted him and he hopes to make a decision in order to sign during the early signing period in November.
            When he does make his decision, it will be based on one factor: which school will help him achieve his ultimate goal of competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
            “I don’t want your typical party school,” Crosby said. “I want a school that will get me to the next level.”
            In four years, Crosby will swim in the Olympic qualifier again, this time with his little brother, but he has a lot of time to get better before then.
            “I don’t want to think I’m good, because then you get tired of it,” Crosby said. “There’s always things you can improve.”
            With an attitude like that, as well as a very supportive family, don’t be surprised if you see Crosby wearing the red, white, and blue in 2016.

 Crosby finished 1st in his heat at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. He is pictured above on the JumboTron at CentryLink Center.

Crosby said the Olympic Trials were like a "rock concert" or "football game" atmosphere.

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