Gold-Medalist Paralympic Swimmer Discusses Triumph Over Adversity
POSTED ON: Thursday, December 19, 2019 12:00 AM by The Stockdale Center
Brad Snyder, a gold-medalist Paralympic swimmer, was the featured speaker for the Stockdale Center’s Volgenau Honor, Courage, and Commitment Luncheon on 17 October. He shared his perspective of triumph over adversity.
LT Brad Snyder USN (Ret) graduated from the Naval Academy and was captain of the swim team. Later qualifying as an explosive ordinance disposal officer, he deployed to Iraq and then Afghanistan. On 7 September 2011, he was severely injured by an IED and blinded. Exactly one year later, Snyder won a gold medal in swimming at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. He went on to win another gold medal and a silver. Competing in 2016 at the Paralympics in Brazil, he won three gold medals, one silver, and broke a world record for the 100-meter freestyle event.
Snyder related his experiences from his initial injury through rehabilitation to his return to swimming. After realizing he was blind, he believed he had two choices: to feel sorry for himself or make the most of the rest of his life. He chose the latter, embracing what he had learned at the Academy about stoicism, to control what he could and let go of what he could not.
He brought the audience with him to the moment of winning the gold medal. But that feeling of celebration was fleeting. As he heard the national anthem, he reflected on all the people who had helped him get there: the service members who retrieved him, the flight crews, the medical personnel, his family, the people from Warrior Games, and the friends who had sacrificed their lives. He realized, “Individuals never accomplish anything truly great. It’s when communities leverage their collaborative efforts toward a cohesive goal, that’s where magic happens.”
Snyder urged midshipmen to take strength from that community and to share the community values of honor, courage, and commitment. He believes the Academy develops resilience by giving midshipmen opportunities to navigate adversity. Training in the physical domain can be applied to the mental and moral domain. Practicing doing the right thing sets the habit, allowing midshipmen to develop resilience and moral character to face future challenges.
The purpose of the Honor, Courage, Commitment Luncheon Seminar series is to provide professional development opportunities for midshipmen, staff, faculty, and coaches. This program is generously funded by Dr. Ernst Volgenau, USNA Class of 1955, and his wife Sara.
The Complete talk by Mr. Snyder: