Story courtesy of Matt Thomas, Gustavus Adolphus College Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication
If you take a quick look at Gustavus Adolphus College senior Anna Eames ’13 you will likely see a typical Division III athlete who is majoring in biology with hopes of someday starting a career in genetic counseling. But if you dig a little deeper, you will uncover a part of Eames that makes her unique.
Born with Fibular Hemimelia, Eames’ right fibula is slightly shorter than her left fibula. On top of that, she has only three toes on her right foot, an abnormal ankle joint, and suffers from hip dysplasia.
Despite undergoing 28 different operations during her lifetime, Eames has not allowed her medical conditions to interfere with her passion for swimming.
“I started swimming originally because it was something I could do that wasn’t painful, because running was pretty painful for me,” Eames said. “I just ended up loving it and stuck with it. I think it’s fun to compete, but swimming is also a good sport for learning life lessons.”
After a successful high school swimming career at Hopkins High School, Eames has been a valuable member of the Gustavus women’s swimming and diving team, particularly in the grueling 1,650-yard freestyle event.
This past February at the MIAC Championships, Eames took fourth place in the one mile race with a time of 18 minutes and 1.84 seconds.
She added a 10th place finish in the 500-yard freestyle event and a 13th place showing in the 200-yard butterfly.
Her efforts helped the Gustavus team earn its third straight MIAC Championship.
“Being a part of the Gustavus swimming team has been wonderful,” Eames said. “We’re a really big team and we’re a really close team. Everybody cares about you and our coach Jon Carlson makes sure everyone feels important.”
While swimming at Gustavus has been a big part of her life the past three years, Eames has also been competing on the international level since 2005 as a paralympic athlete.
Eames swims in the S10 class for paralympic swimmers, which is designated for those with the mildest forms of disabilities, and she has excelled.
At the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, Eames competed in five events and won the gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly S10 and took the bronze medal in the 100-meter freestyle S10 event.
Her time of 1 minute and 9.26 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly set an American record in the S10 class.
“Going to Beijing was everything I could have hoped for. I had never been to that big of a meet with that many spectators,” Eames said. “I went in with no expectations and didn’t really ever think about winning a gold, but it ended up working out for me.”
At the 2010 International Paralympic Committee World Championships in The Netherlands, Eames earned a bronze medal in the 100-meter butterfly event and was later named captain for the U.S. team that swam in the 2011 Pan Pacific Games.
When the Gustavus swimming and diving season ended in late March, Eames continued to train with hopes of being named to the U.S. Team for this summer’s Paralympic Games in London.
The U.S. Paralymic Swimming Trials took place in mid-June in Bismarck, N.D., and Eames was one of the headliners. She took first place in three events including the 50-meter freestyle, the 100-meter freestyle, and the 100-meter butterfly.
Those performances all but cemented her place on this year’s U.S. Paralympic Swim Team which is made up of 20 women and 14 men.
She will leave for Stuttgart, Germany on August 15 where her and her teammates will train at a U.S. Air Force base for 10 days before departing for the Olympic Village in London.
The opening ceremonies will take place on August 29 and she will return to Minnesota and Gustavus for her senior year on September 11.
“My competition has gotten really fast so it will be tough to make the finals,” Eames said. “I just want to go in and swim a good time and everything else will take care of itself. A medal in any event would be nice.”
While swimming is taking center stage this summer for Eames, she is also finding time to do some volunteer work. She is volunteering this summer at a battered women’s shelter in Minneapolis as a youth advocate. She is also giving back to Gillette Children’s Hospital – a place she is familiar with – by volunteering in the surgery waiting room.
“Gillette is where I have had all of my surgeries so it’s nice to be back there,” Eames said.
Media Contact: Media Relations Manager Matt Thomas