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42006-Meredith Koch photo

Meredith Koch

Swimming

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Spinal Cord Injuries
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
S8, SB7, SM8

Further personal information

Residence
Boston, MA, USA
Occupation
Engineer, Technician
Languages
English
Higher education
Biology - Boston College: United States

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She got into swimming as part of her rehabilitation following her spinal cord injury in 2015. "By my one year Para [swimming] anniversary [in May 2016], I was independently swimming laps at my local YMCA. I came across a swim clinic run by the Challenged Athletes Foundation [CAF] and the Paralympic Sport Club [PSC] of Boston at the summer adaptive sports fair. I decided to sign up and go to the clinic, where the coaches suggested I join the weekly PSC swim clinics."
Why this sport?
"Aquatic therapy became an integral part of my recovery. It was where I took my first unassisted steps, where I wasn't scared to try new exercises, and where I felt most like my pre-accident self. It took a few months after joining PSC Boston to have the endurance to even contemplate competitively swimming. But by October 2016 I was ready for my first official meet and to begin the process of getting classified for Paralympic swimming. I forget that I am even paralysed while swimming."

General interest

Hobbies
Rock climbing, cycling, skiing, reading, swimming, surfing. (brooklynboulders.com, 02 May 2016; SpauldingRehab YouTube channel, Feb 27, 2019; adaptivesportsne.org, 20 Jun 2017)
Hero / Idol
US physician and wheelchair Para athlete Cheri Blauwet. "She became a beacon of hope for me that I could still work in the medical profession regardless of my ability to walk." (TEDx Talks YouTube channel, 17 Aug 2018)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"I have learned that we are not defined by our [dis]abilities but rather by the attitude we choose to live our life with. I will not allow a piano to stop me from doing something I love. It's about getting from one end of the pool to the other - not the way we do it." (mek0530.wixsite.com, 23 Apr 2017; connectwithpartners.org, 17 Aug 2018)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (TEDx Talks YouTube channel, 17 Aug 2018)
Impairment
The day before her 25th birthday she was helping friends move a piano from a truck when it fell on her. She sustained an L1 vertebra fracture and a mid-sternum fracture which resulted in paralysis from the waist down. After surgery and rehabilitation she regained some function in her legs and has since been able to walk short distances with the assistance of leg braces and crutches. (ems1.com, 24 Aug 2016; christopherreeve.org, 12 Mar 2018)
Other information
OCCUPATION
She works as a clinical systems engineer for the cardiac rhythm and heart failure division of Medtronic, a medical device company. She provides clinical technical support for pacemakers and implantable defibrillators. "After much trial and error, my team and I were able to successfully adapt my job as a clinical specialist to meet my mobility and stamina needs. Being able to return to the same job I had prior to my accident in essentially full capacity has been huge, mentally and professionally." (christopherreeve.org, 12 Mar 2018)

FURTHER STUDIES
After gaining her bachelor degree in biology from Boston College in 2012, she completed a master of science in mechanical engineering at the University of Vermont. (LinkedIn profile, 01 Jun 2019)