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Snider’s progress inspires

Nearly three years ago, I wrote a piece about an eighth grader who had been diagnosed with diabetes. This same youngster was on the fast track to a promising swimming career. His ambition was to compete in the Olympics.

Even though his lifestyle and eating habits took a drastic turn upon receiving the news from his doctor, his regiment in the pool continued to follow a particular schedule. The results weren’t as phenomenal as far as minutes and seconds, but never did he call it quits.

More than a year passed. And now he was beginning to reap the rewards of what personifies an impressive work ethic.

At the state swim meet last month in February, not a better script could have been written as Parkersburg High School junior Sean Snider won a gold medal in the 500 freestyle and a silver in the 200 freestyle.

Inspirational at its best.

“As an eighth grader, I kind of thought that being diagnosed with diabetes was unfair,” Snider said. “I didn’t really know why it happened to me. It didn’t make sense to me.

“I had been playing sports my whole life. I ate healthy for the most part, so it made no sense why it happened to me. It’s just the way the disease is.”

Snider treats the disease like its second-nature. It’s a given he has to test his blood 10 times a day. It’s a given he has to give himself insulin shots five times a day.

Just by looking at particular foods, he can count how many carbs are involved. His mind works like a computer.

“It was hard for us as parents – it was like Sean was an airplane going up as far as where he was going in swimming,” said his father, Don Snider. “He was improving and moving into that fast lane of swimming. Then he hit a wall and the plane came down. And it was frustrating.

“He lost everything – the weight, the strength. It took a year and a half to get all that back.”

There are four children in the Snider family who swim competitively, and that’s why there was so much emotion this past winter at the state meet in Morgantown.

“That state meet was pretty satisfying,” Sean Snider said. “We’re hoping to make a run at the state title next year because we think it’s possible.

“There’s definitely a lot of work left and I can say the target is on my back. I just have to work harder and reclaim my title next year.”

Next in line for Sean Snider is a trip scheduled for the first week of April in Greensboro, N.C., for the YMCA Short Course National Championship. He’s used to venues on a national scale. And not just for swimming.

On several occasions, his high school team has qualified for the National History Bee and Bowl in Washington, D.C.

“That’s always been a fun trip, but honestly we get demolished at nationals,” Snider said. “I’m not going to lie.”

Cross country is another sport where Snider has to be careful to monitor his insulin levels. In all three trips as a member of the PHS cross country team, Snider has placed in the top 50.

“I’ve talked with other students with diabetes,” said his father, who teaches at Vienna Elementary. “I tell them, ‘Look, you can still compete at a high level in sports. I know pro athletes who do it.’

“At the state meet, Sean swam lights out and better than I have seen him swim all year. It’s been a road to get there and he had to work a little extra hard, but he doesn’t say a word about it. He just does it. He’s just that way in all things.”

Whether the Olympics are in reach, that’s up to Sean. Whether he fulfills a dream and attends Stanford University, again that’s up to Sean. But don’t rule anything out when inspiration is in play.

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com