Konkoly’s mirac­u­lously back in pool

Souderton Independent - - OPINION - By Denny Dyroff

Spe­cial to Mont­gomery Me­dia

Methac­ton High School girls swim team has a tradition of pro­duc­ing stand­out swimmers. Michelle Konkoly is one of them. The freestyle ace, who swims for Ge­orge­town rniver­sity, was on state-cal­iber re­lay teams at Methac­ton with Blaire Kin­sey, who now swims at Vir­ginia Tech, and Kris­ten Rod­man, who is one of Penn State’s top freestylers.

Konkoly’s ca­reer as a swim­mer for the Hoyas was go­ing well through her fresh­man sea­son — and then came to a screech­ing halt on a cold, win­ter night in D.C.

In the early morn­ing of Jan. 11, 2011, Konkoly was at­tempt­ing to open a win­dow in her door room be­cause of ex­ces­sive heat in the room when the ac­ci­dent hap­pened. She fell out the wLnGRw DnG SOuPPHWHG fiYH VWRULHV WR the ground be­low. Amaz­ingly, she sur­vived the fall. “, IHOO fiYH VWRULHV DnG ODnGHG Rn Py feet,” said Konkoly. “I dam­aged my spine and had a lot of other in­juries. I have rods and pins in me that will never come out. My discs were OK — just the ver­te­brae body got squished. When I woke up at the hospi­tal, I was pretty freaked out. But, be­ing a swim­mer, I was able to put it in per­spec­tive.

“The pain now is nowhere near what it was. I went back to school last fall.”

Ini­tially, doc­tors were skep­ti­cal that Konkoly would ever walk again. But, the spir­ited ath­lete showed that she is the swim­ming world’s ver­sion of Vin­nie Pazienza.

When Pazienza was the ju­nior mid­dleweight world cham­pion, he suf­fered a bro­ken neck in a car crash and WKH GRFWRUV WROG KLP KH’G nHYHU fiJKW again. Af­ter an amaz­ing re­hab, Paz made one of box­ing’s most in­cred­i­ble come­backs when he re­turned to the ULnJ IRU VHYHUDO PRUH WLWOH fiJKWV.

Konkoly not only re­turned to Ge­orge­town for her stud­ies last year, she re­turned to the pool and swam some ex­hi­bi­tion races with the Hoyas’ team. This sum­mer, she com­peted in the r.S. Par­a­lympics Tri­als and just missed earn­ing a berth on the na­tional team.

“Af­ter red-shirt­ing last year, I hope to swim for Ge­orge­town this year,” said Konkoly, who was a 2010 run­nerup for the Tri­an­gle Club’s an­nual Dan­nehower Award. “My left leg is get­ting bet­ter. It’s still not 100 per­cent but I’m hop­ing that it will continue to im­prove.

“I’m able to func­tion­ally nav­i­gate stairs. I did an­other round of re­hab this sum­mer at Magee (Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Hos­pi­talF. My limp is hardly no­tice­able now — at least I hope it is. I think I’m go­ing past the timetable the doc­tors expected. I think I blew them away with my swim­ming.”

Photo cour­tesy Ge­orge­town Univer­sity

Methac­ton grad­u­ate Michelle Konkoly.

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