Mallory Weggemann Wins Silver at Paralympic Nationals While 26 Weeks Pregnant; Ready to ‘Change the Narrative’

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Mallory Weggemann and husband Jay pose for family photo. Photo Courtesy: TFA Group

Mallory Weggemann has been a constant reminder of what is possible.

The Paralympic swimmer broke down barriers to become a champion after she was paralyzed during a routine medical procedure to treat chronic nerve pain..

Later, she was told she and her husband might not be able to have children, due to male-factor infertility, but after in vitro, she is in her third trimester.

These are situations where Weggemann has not only overcome the odds, but been a beacon to others who have struggled after injuries or struggled to get pregnant.

But Weggemann isn’t stopping there.

At 26 weeks pregnant, she competed at the U.S. Paralympic Championships in December, earning a silver medal in the 50 butterfly.

“We are officially well into the third trimester. It is crazy how fast it’s gone, but we are getting ready for this new stage. I was on the starting blocks 26 weeks pregnant, as a woman with a disability, in a wheelchair and there is that element in sport about the power to transcend the field of play and serve as the catalyst for something more and really change the narrative,” Mallory Weggemann told Swimming World. “I have loved this sport for so long and there was just something special about getting behind the starting blocks with little one and getting to share that with them and be able to race.”

The baby was ready, too.

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Mallory Weggemann. Photo Courtesy: TFA Group

“When I got up on the blocks, little one started to kick and I got a nice kick right in my upper rib. The kid is ready. It was a reminder that we were really doing this together,” she said. “It is truly a family affair at this point.”

Female athletes have come back to compete at a high level, but it is still not a mainstream situation, though swimming has seen some powerful returns from swimmers like Dana Vollmer and Dara Torres.

Weggemann is hoping to show athletes, specifically swimmers, that they can be swimmers and moms.

“For me, we are in a world embracing female athletes who come back to the field of play after becoming mothers but the work is not done.  There is the element that we in society are not there yet with disability representation, especially in parenting. So taking something I love and utilizing that moment was really important to my husband and I in this journey,” she said.

Swimming at a national meet while pregnant definitely had its challenging moments.

“Everything about swimming pregnant is different. We were trying to figure out how we were going to do a start because my modified start is me sitting with my knees to my chest and rocking forward for the start because I can’t stand. That was different with a 26-week bump,” Weggemann said. “I was definitely not in a competition suit. The officials had to make an exception for my suit.”

She won the silver medal in the 50 butterfly and made finals in the 50 freestyle and 200 IM.

“I wanted to race while pregnant, enjoy it with my husband after all we went through since before Tokyo,” she said. “I love swimming and w

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Mallory Weggemann. Photo Courtesy: TFA Group

anted to share that and hopefully it is showing that path of what is possible for women. I happened to finish the finish with the silver in the 50 fly. All in all, it went pretty well.”

It was the next stage in a long journey with fertility issues that left Weggemann not knowing if she could ever get pregnant.

“Going through infertility is tough. There is no sugarcoating it. We are 30 weeks pregnant, but we know that if we want any more, there are a lot of things that will have to go into that, too,” Mallory Weggemann said. “As an athlete, you had to time treatment cycles and make sure the hormones they have you on are cleared by USADA and WADA. We had to shift our transfer cycle because one of the meds I needed was prohibited in competition. It is an emotional, physical and financial strain. My husband and I really leaned into staying as active as I could, but also leaning into being vocal about our experience. Especially because men don’t talk about that issue. It is a 50-50 split but in society, we look at it as a women’s health issue.

“This was our final embryo and there was a lot riding on that. It has been whirlwind to say the least.”M

Weggemann, 33, is looking at remaining as active as possible in the water after giving birth.

One of the biggest things is knowing that Team USA is supporting female athletes through pregnancy, when it comes to insurance.

“It wasn’t until 2019 that Team USA provided pregnancy support for our athletes,” she said. “Before, you if you got pregnant and you couldn’t compete, you could lose your health insurance if you lose your national team status. I am still on the national team and my status is secured because I am on pregnancy support. Never as a female athlete did I think that would be available to me. We have this stigma in society that motherhood is an either-or situation. There is a path forward to do both.”

Now, Weggemann is blazing a trail for female swimmers with big goals on both fronts.

“I am definitely looking forward to what the next stage in life is going to be. There would be no greater joy than getting behind those starting blocks at the Paralympics and seeing my husband and our little one in the stands cheering for her mama,” Mallory Weggemann said. “That is going to be something that puts a lot of fuel to this flame – and already has.”

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Mallory Weggemann. Photo Courtesy: TFA Group

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8 months ago

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