Mallory Weggemann Details Resilient Journey in ‘Limitless’ Memoir

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Photo Courtesy: Harper Collins

Mallory Weggemann has proved to be one of the most inspirational figures in the sport of swimming. It isn’t because of her triumphs, but how she has fought back after tragedy.

Weggemann is sharing her entire journey in a new memoir titled “Limitless: The Power of Hope and Resilience,” which was released on March 2, co-written by Tiffany Yecke Brooks and published by Nelson Books. It will be available at Amazon and other major online stores.

She was hoping it would run following a strong Paralympic Games, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the games back a year. Weggeman decided to release the book in 2021 anyway.

“This has been a goal of mine for a long time, something I put on my radar.

Trying to know when that is is really challenging,” Mallory Weggemann told Swimming World. “We thought we would be releasing Limitless after a games not right before a games. I dabbled in the idea in 2012 so this has been a long time coming. I was approached in 2012 about doing it. After London, I won but I was just getting started, so it didn’t feel like the right time. I met Tiffany seven years ago and we are close. We put it on the backburner until it felt right.

“It felt like I was at the place in my journey where I knew I wanted to share. It is not just about becoming a Paralympic champion, but figuring out what your journey is and honoring, so other people can find their journey. It honestly just felt like the right time.”

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Mallory Weggemann. Photo Courtesy: Nelson Books

Weggeman was paralyzed during a medical procedure at age 18. In the years that followed, she has enjoyed success in the pool, but also even more hardships.

She relied on her own thoughts and words during those good times and tragic times by writing in her journal, which proved to be an important tool in telling her story.

“In terms of the emotional standpoint, the most difficult thing was the most healing, going through my journals. I have written in journals even before my paralysis,” Weggemann said. “My biggest thing was I wanted to get to the end and feel like I honored the journey as it was, not as I see it now, so my journals really guided me.

“Each chapter is a stand-alone lesson, and they all came from my journals. They all came to life through my journals. It was empowering and healing but also challenging. Most of them I hadn’t read since I wrote them.

Processing those emotions as they came out was the most challenging.

It is kind of just when the mood strikes. Sometimes I would write three times in a day. Early on, I was so aware that I was the one living in a wheelchair, but I wasn’t the only one grieving it. It was a big change and traumatic moment that my family and my community experienced, but we all remember parts with a different perspective.  I am not as private with my emotions with my loved one.

Early on, there were a lot of repetitive journals because I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it and it was my way of talking about it. I still do it regularly now. I am notorious for the long caption on Instagram and they are all in line with what I have been journaling lately. Why not put it out there?”

Now, she is putting the entire journey out there, especially after fully realizing her impact as a public figure.

“It came in phases. As an athlete, I went from being paralyzed to winning a gold at worlds in the course of 2 ½ years. The next year (2011) I was at the ESPYS. That is when I really started to feel it more as a public figure.

“That was my entree into this space heading into London. I have always been outgoing and bubbly, but I was still so recently injured. That was an interesting adjustment — it was more when I wasn’t winning, when I was making a comeback and building my speaking career,” Mallory Weggemann said. “It was these segments. It allowed me to figure out who I was without winning.  Before the 2019 worlds, it had been nine years since I had been at a world championships. The last time I raced and medaled was in London. That is seven years of showing up and fighting for the same dream without any gratification knowing you are on the right page. I wanted to swim because I loved to swim, not because I loved winning. That has given me a second act in my athletic career.”

That second act is in the pool but also in public speaking. Weggeman speaks as part of the Washington Speakers Bureau as well as her own business.

“Sport translates off the field of play in so many powerful ways. The lessons I have learned in swimming built me into the person I am today. The Rio games were the most successful of my career and I didn’t win a single thing. Doing all you can to follow your dreams is all you can do, that is why we titled the book Limitless. We are so much more than our circumstances,” she said.

Weggemann wanted the book to be a tribute to those who have helped her along the way, especially her family.

“It sounds so silly but the people who inspired me most were the people right in front of. Yes I have drawn inspiration from Janet Evans and Natalie Coughlin, but in terms of the daily drive and inspiration, it came from my parents and my family,” she said. “My parents faced a lot and faced it together with grace and extreme strength. Seeing that play out in front of me with their courage, resilience and faith was really inspiring for me. Also I drew a lot of inspiration from my coach and my incredible husband.”

Now, Weggemann is aiming for a strong finish to 2021, especially with the latest adversity of the pandemic.

“The past year has been interesting for everyone. There is nothing worse than hearing your pool is shut down as a swimmer. We have been able to draw strength that we are not in it alone. Everyone is going through this,” Mallory Weggemann said. “Training got unique in 2020 but I looked at it as I have been through worse. I have gone through paralysis and a devastating arm injury. I know how to come back. I have done it more times that I can count. But this is about so much more than us. We are just a small piece. The Games will be a powerful way of bringing our world together.”

Mallory Weggemann is hoping to show one more time how she can overcome adversity, but is at a point where she knows what happens in the water will not define her, or her journey.

“We have lofty goals for Tokyo. Every day since I won in London, I have dreamed about being in that spot again,” she said. “I have dreams and goals of competing for a log a long time. But I also am at a place where I understand and respect what I have been able to accomplish as a person.”

And what she hopes people take away from the book is those accomplishments are “Limitless.”

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