Paralympic Swimming: A Parent’s Perspective

Lawrence Sapp

Paralympic Swimming: A Parent’s Perspective

By Sadie Jones, Swimming World Intern

Since the age of 12, Dee Sapp knew her son had a talent for swimming. Lawrence Sapp is now 19 and currently attending the University of Cincinnati, where he swims on the men’s club team. He grew up in Waldorf, Maryland with his mother, father, and two siblings. From a young age, he loved being in the water. Fast forward to 2020, and Lawrence can be found on the USA Paralympic Team and the National Team. 

“The hardest part of the journey is convincing people to give him a chance,” said Dee Sapp. “He’s got the natural talent, but the technical work, the other social cues, and things like that, are what takes extra special people to want to do a little extra on that side.”

Lawrence’s mom expressed that finding the right people to surround Lawrence and guide him in his swimming presented some obstacles because of his cognitive challenges. After joining Nation’s Capital Swim Club in Alexandria, Virginia, he found his rhythm and ultimately found his success in swimming. 

In 2016, Dee received a letter from the Paralympic team. They wanted to talk to her about possibly getting Lawrence on the team because he was registered as a swimmer with a disability. She ignored the letter at first because she was hesitant there wouldn’t be enough competition in the Paralympic world, and that’s what Lawrence thrives on. Upon careful consideration, she returned their call a month later and agreed to try out a meet. After swimming his first Paralympic meet and encountering the same high standard of competition as in regular USA Swimming meets, Lawrence decided he wanted to continue and try to make the Paralympic team. 

Lawrence Sapp

Photo Courtesy: Dee Sapp

At the World Para Swimming Allianz Championships in London in 2019, Lawrence swam one of his most memorable swims ever. His 100 butterfly race in the finals got him the Quad A USA Swimming cut, the NCSA cut, and he earned his spot for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. He was seeded sixth for the race and came out with a silver medal. Dee describes this race as his opportunity: “That swim opened the door for so many things.” 

All of Lawrence’s achievements aren’t just from his work inside the pool, his family has also been a big part of where he is today. His mother, in particular, has to use her voice to make sure he is in the right environment to thrive.

“Oftentimes, he will advocate for himself, but I’m better able to articulate what his needs are,” she said.

Lawrence is lucky to have this kind of support in his corner. 

The future is bright for Lawrence as he keeps working toward his goals of swimming on a collegiate swim team and making it to Tokyo. Being so young, he also has his sights set on the 2024 and 2028 Paralympics. Swimming has allowed Lawrence to grow as a person, athlete, and student. With his determination and competitive drive, this is only the beginning of his success. 

 

6 comments

  1. avatar
    Any Priddle

    Absolutely awesome 👏

  2. avatar
    Carolyn D

    Great article and an avid supporter.

  3. avatar
    Denese Artis

    So very proud of my grandson and his family😁

  4. avatar
    Julie Austin

    Yeah, Lawrence!!!

  5. avatar
    Karen A Brooks

    Yay to Lawrence and every single person who encouraged his talents.

  6. avatar
    Walter Sapp

    Awesome! Great article. Great achievement Lawrence. Kudos to mom.❤️

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