Michelle Konkoly

5 years ago, swimmer Michelle Konkoly woke up paralyzed from the waist down after falling out her five story dorm room window. She suffered from a shattered foot, fractured vertebra and broken ribs. A freshman at the time, she told her then-coach Jamie Holder that she wanted to stay on the swim team as she went through rehabilitation and recovered from the trauma, as she never thought she would stop swimming. Eight months later, Michelle was back in the pool.

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Her teammates welcomed her back and were inspired by her determination to re learn the sport she loved so much. "Even before the accident, Michelle was one of the most positive swimmers on the swim team. She always had a big smile on her face. I remember being so inspired by her commitment to our training,” reflects a teammate. Michelles advice on how she overcame her setback, "don't ever limit yourself, find an expert and listen to them."

Michelles latest accomplishments are nothing short of extraordinary, as seen in the Highlights below. Her Paralympic coach says of her, “she has more strength than some able bodied athletes, she is a cool ambassador for the sport because she shatters the image that Paralympic athletes are somehow weaker." Her mental attitude is evident in the tattoo she wears that says "Believe", situated where she had her surgery. It is a reminder of the power of the mind that carried her into the international scene of Paralympic swimming.

The Nametags program is important to me because it not only exposes kids to Paralympics, Paralympic athletes, and people with disabilities who are not letting anything hold them back, but it teaches students how to apply these lessons of resilience, teamwork, and self-confidence in their own lives. This is what makes Nametags so unique - the program doesn't simply share the story of one athlete, but really shows kids how to use these lessons in their own lives and make positive changes."

Highlights

  • 4X Paralympic Medalist - Swimming (2016 Rio Games) 
  • Gold (50m Free, 100m Free), Silver (4x100m Freestyle Relay), Bronze (4x100m Medley Relay)
  • World Record Holder in the S9 50m Free and 100m Free
  • Co-Captain of 2016 US Paralympic Swim Team
  • 3X Silver Medalist at 2015 World Championships (100m Free, 50m Free, 4x100m Free)
  • 4 Year Member of Varsity Swim Team at Georgetown University
  • Captain of Women's Swim Team at Georgetown University
  • Big-East All-Academic Team, Most Resilient Female Athlete, Most Improved Female Swimmer, Princeton University’s 'Big Al' Inspirational Swimmer Award
  • Graduated from Georgetown University in 2014 as Biology Major
  • Medical Student at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University 

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