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20477-McClain Hermes photo

McClain Hermes

Swimming

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Vision impairment
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
S11, SB11, SM11

Further personal information

Other names
Laurrie Hermes
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
English
Higher education
Communications, Journalism - Loyola University Maryland: Baltimore, MD, USA

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She first tried the sport at age four, and began Para swimming in 2012 after her vision deteriorated. "I started running into the wall more often, so my coach started researching adaptive swimming. I think that if I was not introduced to the Paralympic world, I would not be swimming. Now I know there are other people like me and I can compete on a level playing field with them."
Why this sport?
Her parents encouraged her and her siblings to start swimming and she now sees swimming as an escape. "You can dive in the pool and nobody can see [you]. If you're upset, they can't see you cry. You can sing, talk, you can yell, and nobody knows what's happening. I know I couldn't live without it. If I was unable to swim, that would be the worst thing ever, because it's just my happy place."

International debut

Year
2015
Competing for
United States

General interest

Hobbies
Travel, reading, writing, cross-training, tandem-bike riding, public speaking. (teamusa.org, 06 Sep 2021; differentandable.org, 05 Jan 2021)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in S11 400m freestyle at the 2017 World Championships in Mexico City, Mexico. (Instagram profile, 05 Dec 2021)
Most influential person in career
Her parents. (Instagram profile, 14 Nov 2020)
Hero / Idol
US swimmer Missy Franklin. (differentandable.org, 05 Jan 2021)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"A goal without a plan is just a goal." (Athlete, 06 Dec 2017)
Awards and honours
In 2017 she won the Georgia Swimming Golden Peach Award for Para Swimmer of the Year. (chattergoc.com, 28 Apr 2017)

She was named 2016/17 Gifted Student of the Year by the Gwinnett Alliance for Gifted Education in Georgia, United States of America. (chattergoc.com, 28 Apr 2017)
Other sports
She has competed in Para triathlon at national level in the United States of America. (Instagram profile, 14 Mar 2022)
Milestones
At age 15 years and 250 days she was the youngest athlete representing United States of America to compete at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (teamusa.org, 22 Aug 2016; SportsDeskOnline, 13 Jan 2020)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2022 World Championships in Madeira, Portugal, and at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris. (Instagram profile, 15 Apr 2022, 11 Sep 2021)
Impairment
She has Wagner syndrome and is legally blind after both of her retinas detached at age eight. Surgeons were able to reattach the left retina but not the right. She is completely blind in her right eye and has limited vision in her left eye, which extends to about one metre in front of her, but has no depth perception. (Athlete, 06 Dec 2017; gwinnettdailypost.com, 06 Jul 2013; loyolagreyhounds.com, 2019)
Other information
OTHER ACTIVITIES
In 2009 she founded the 'Shoes for the Souls' project along with her father Matt. The organisation collects shoes for the homeless in Atlanta, GA, United States of America. In the first six years the project was running, more than 12,000 pairs of shoes were collected for those in need. She has also undertaken an internship as a journalist at 'Swimming World' magazine. (teamusa.org, 06 Sep 2021; differentandable.org, 05 Jan 2021; gwinnettdailypost.com, 11 Apr 2015; atlantahomesguru.blogspot.co.uk, 19 May 2013; mcclainhermes.com, 05 Jul 2016; pressboxonline.com, 26 Dec 2019)

INSPIRATIONAL FRIEND
She considers fellow US Para swimmer and bone cancer patient Grace Bunke her inspiration. She also gave Bunke the silver medal she won at the 2017 World Championships in Mexico City, Mexico, before Bunke passed away in March 2018. "Seeing Grace go through cancer and swimming was huge for me. I believed that if Grace can do it, I can do it. If Grace can go to swim practice and be so sick that the next day she's in the hospital because [of it], I can go [too]. Swimming turned into something not just for me, but for the both of us." (swimmingworldmagazine.com, 15 May 2019; teamusa.org, 26 Mar 2018)

OVERCOMING BULLIES
She learned how to overcome bullying she experienced at school. "My biggest challenges in school was not being able to get from one room to the other and the perpetual bullying. Because of the bullying, I was afraid to use my different types of assistive technology. I was afraid of what my peers would say about me. I was often called names such as 'Cyclops' and 'Freak'. Kids would purposely push me into things or walk in front of me, knowing I could not see them. However, I did find, or they found me, a really great group of friends who banded around me and helped guide me through my school. They were amazing and continuously encouraged me to use my assistive technology, to use my cane, and to self-advocate for my needs." (differentandable.org, 05 Jan 2021)

Results

Unit Date Rank
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB13 Heat 2 2016-09-11 8
Women's 400 m Freestyle S13 Heat 2 2016-09-12 7
Women's 100 m Backstroke S12 Final Round 2016-09-14 8
Mexico City 2017 World Para Swimming Championships (Mexico City, Mexico)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Freestyle S11 Final 1 2017-12-02 2
Women's 100 m Backstroke S11 Final 1 2017-12-03 2
Women's 50 m Freestyle S11 Final 1 2017-12-05 3
Women's 400 m Freestyle S11 Final 1 2017-12-05 1
Women's 100 m Breaststroke SB11 Final 1 2017-12-06 3