Megan Kingsley ‘Just Happy to be Alive’ After Crash

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Megan Kingsley was still basking in the perhaps most successful swim meet of her career.

But in the blink of an eye, Megan Kingsley was on the ground, looking up at the rainy sky wondering if that high note would be the end of her career — or worse.

After swimming all best times at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Richmond, Kingsley exited a store and while she was crossing at the crosswalk to the parking lot, was struck by a car and knocked to the ground.

“It was raining. I walked out to get to my car. I was walking across the crosswalk and saw a car at the last second behind a parked truck. Everything happened so fast. I remember laying on my back in absolute disbelief. All of a sudden there were five faces looking down on me,” Kingsley told Swimming World.

“I have had a lot of traumatic things happen, but this was the most traumatic I have ever experienced. The guy that hit me jumped out of his car (to help). So many bystanders helped. I was in shock. I was hysterical. My hands were tingly from trying to stop my fall. Bystanders were trying to cover me so I didn’t get rained on.”

But one thought remained on her mind as she tried to process what had happened.

“I immediately thought my swimming was done,” she said.

Kingsley was rushed to the hospital, where she had several tests to check her health after the crash.

“I didn’t hit my head, which was good. But I was definitely in shock,” she said. “They took me to a trauma hospital and there were seven doctors working on me at once. They were checking everything. I was in so much pain. I was there waiting for test results for five hours, not sure how to process any of it.”

Kingsley ended up with severe bone bruises from her tailbone up to her left shoulder blade. She also sprained several ligaments in her elbow, which has put her arm in a splint.

But Kingsley knows it could have been much worse.

“I got lucky,” she said. “I am so grateful I didn’t get killed.”

The crash definitely took more of a toll than just the physical element. Kingsley thinks about it almost constantly.

“This is not only a physical injury but a mental and emotional injury. I have to work on the mental side of this, too,” she said. “It was emotionally draining. It would all hit me and I just would start crying. I can’t imagine what that guy who hit me was dealing with. I feel for him. That is traumatic for him, too. I know he wasn’t trying to hit me.”

Then the thoughts naturally swing to her swimming career.

“What is next? What do those steps look like? How far will this set me back?” she wonders.

She is still wondering.

Kingsley, who swims for the Athens Bulldogs Swim Club, spent years working to get back to her best in the water after knee problems.

After finishing her college career at Georgia as an All-American, she felt like she still had more fast swimming in her and, despite the knee issues, continued after graduation.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

All of the years of work paid off when she swam all best times at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Richmond earlier this month.

“I went all best times at Richmond. It has been six years since I went that fast in the IM,” she said.

Kingsley swam a 4:48.87 in the 400 IM, a 59.82 in the 100 fly, a 2:10.25 in the 200 fly and a 27.65 in the 50 fly.

“It meant a lot. I had a ton of personal victories. I have enjoyed swimming a lot more,” she said. “I didn’t have super high expectations, but I just went out and raced. I proved to myself that I could be faster. It was fun enjoying swimming, and my parents were there. I think they were happier for me than I was. The biggest thing for me is that I didn’t quit.”

Now, after the crash, that will be the biggest thing for her again.

“Even if I start swimming in a week, it is not going to be a full practice for a while. For me, it is proving how far I can go until 2020,” she said.

“Why am I still swimming? A lot of it for me is a mental game. I am working hard and doing everything I can. This is not the path I had originally planned for myself after college. I wanted to keep moving forward no matter what. That is what life is about, and swimming really taught me that.”