Madison native Sarah Switzer takes home five medals at 2019 World Championship in Norway

While some college sophomores are spending their summers working or taking classes, Sarah Switzer is spending hers out on the water, competing for team USA.

Posted: Aug 2, 2019 10:18 PM

Sarah Switzer has been competing in National and World competitions since 2014, and in just those five years she's won more than ten medals, but she says she doesn't do it for the hardware.

Switzer is competing for Team USA at World Championships, most recently in Norway.

"It's pretty intense when training comes around," Switzer said. "We had a week of training before on the site that we were going to compete on for worlds, but kind of getting that water time there, experiencing, obviously the climates different and trying to get past the jetlag and and everything before the real deal sets in was a lot of fun."

The 19 year old Auburn student competed in all three adaptive water skiing events: slalum, trick and jump.

She won two silver medals in jump and overall women's competitions. She won bronze in the women's slalum and women's tournament overall. Plus, Team USA won gold!

The Madison native was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly, so she turned to adaptive sports at a young age.

"Being born with spina bifida I grew up with a lot of people who had the same disability as me because I had fetal surgery," Switzer said. "There was probably around 50 of us and I was around the 50th to be born with spina bifida so growing up I had them as a support group and like I said lakeshore foundation, I've been involved with them since we moved to alabama."

She owes her interest to Joe Ray, the executive director of Adaptive Aquatics, who's helped her compete.

"There's a place in birmingham called the lake shore foundation, and I was there for a super sport saturday which is basically when kids come out and try paralympic sports and he met me, saw me kind of playing basketball, he used to play basketball there," Switzer said. "He said, 'Hey I've got this company would you be interested in water skiing?' and introduced that to me and introduced that to my parents after the day was over, so that's how I got started."

This is not the last we'll see Switzer out on the water, she's got her eyes on her next challenge which is competing in the 2021 World Championships in Victoria, Australia.

If you'd like to help out the USA Adaptive Water Skiing & Wake Sports team, please visit They're always looking for sponsors!

Sarah Switzer has been in the spotlight since before she was born. In July 1999, Switzer's mother was one of the first women to receive fetal surgery; Sarah was operated on for his spina bifida while still in her mother's uterus. A famous picture of Sarah was published in LIFE magazine by photographer Max Aguilera-Hellweg. Sarah's arm came out of the uterus during the operation and Dr. Joseph Bruner from Vanderbilt Hospital placed it back inside and then Sarah went back into her mother until August when she was born. Although Sarah was born nine weeks early, she was very healthy and the doctors were very pleased.

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