Adaptive swim program helps Alexandria teen excel in the water
Fourteen-year-old Sophia Nohre from Alexandria was drawn to swimming because it was one of the only safe options for her.
“It was one of the only sports I could do without breaking anything. I can’t do soccer, I can’t do gymnastics,” she said.
Born with a rare condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, she has broken 131 bones in her 14 years. In 2022, she was sidelined for months with two leg surgeries.
“We’ve all had our setbacks. We’ve all had our struggles and dealt with them, and now we are back,” she said.
She’s back, and she hardly seems fragile when you watch her churn through the water.
The adaptive swim team at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute is helping her regain her strength — in body and spirit.
And she’s getting some help.
“I’ve gone through a similar experience myself,” her swim coach Adam Warden, said.
Warden is more than just a swim coach. As an amputee, he can relate to some of the extra challenges adaptive athletes face. He started coaching at Courage Kenny in 2017 and has since volunteered more than 600 hours to the adaptive sports programs.
“It’s just that feeling of belonging and accomplishment when you can go out and challenge yourself with some kind of activity,” he said.
Earlier this month, Warden took a handful of athletes, including Sophia, down to the Junior National Adaptive Swim Competition in Alabama. Sophia brought home five gold medals and one silver.
“I hope it’s kind of an eye-opener to some people,” she said.