The Australian Swimming community today rallied around Olympic hopeful and dual Commonwealth Games gold medalist Lori Munz after the 21-year-old was involved in an horrific car crash yesterday morning. It was the third serious auto accident involving a swimmer in the past three days. Last Saturday, New Jersey swimmer Jason Nessel died in an accident in Florida, and Canadian standout Tara Sloan was critically injured in an accident near Calgary.
Munz suffered severe leg injuries after her car was involved in a head on crash on the Princes Highway on the New South Wales South Coast at around 9.30 am.
Extensive CAT Scans and x-rays have cleared her of any serious head injuries but she has severely damaged both knees in the accident which will require operations.
Munz is reported to be in good spirits and could even be back in the water in six weeks time, a race to be ready to contest the Australian Olympic Trials, which will be contested between May 13 and 20.
The accident has united the Australian Swimming team and the Australian swimming community after news of the accident filtered through the tight-knit swimming fraternity during the day. Australian swimmers, coaches and leading administrators all offered their support and best wishes for the brave 21-year-old – a key member of the Australian 4 x 100 and 4 x 200m freestyle relay teams, which broke the Commonwealth record at last year’s Pan Pacific Championships.
Australian swimming received phone calls of support from major sponsor Telstra, with whom Lori is a NSW Ambassador, swimmers Michael Klim, Daniel Kowalski, Petria Thomas, Elli Overton and Giaan Rooney.
Kowalski spoke for all on the Australian squad when he said: “Why does this happen to the good guys? We all feel for Lori. She is one of one of the real special people on our team and we wish her the speediest of recoveries. “If anyone is tough enough to come back from these kind of injuries then Lori can.”
Petria Thomas, one of Lori’s best friends, cried when she heard the news. “Lori is probably my best mate on the Australian team. Why did this have to happen to her? I just wish I could be with her,” Thomas said.
Australian Swimming Inc. President Terry Gathercole was devastated when he heard the news and has expressed his sympathy to Munz, her family and coach and his relief that the 21-year-old was not seriously injured.
“Everyone at Australian Swimming is devastated for Lori,” Mr. Gathercole said. “It is always sad when one of our own is injured but in such circumstances it is particularly sad. “Australian Swimming and the swimming fraternity, including her teammates, offer Lori and her family sympathy and help as she fights to get back to full fitness. We are grateful with the news that her injuries are no longer life threatening.”