After researching swim techniques for vision impaired athletes, Hermes discovered para-swimming, an adaptation of the sport for athletes with disabilities.
McClain Hermes’ highlighter-yellow shoes carried her across the blue pool deck as her name flashed on the screen behind her. She walked steadily to the blocks, one hand gripped lightly to her cane and the other to the arm of her tapper – two things Hermes trusted most to guide her. She stood behind the blocks of the pool comfortably, like she had done so many times before. Hermes listened as her name and country were announced in unison, something she had always dreamed of hearing. Cold water chilled her skin as she placed her feet on the touchpad, fingers curled around the backstroke bar: a familiar place, with an unfamiliar feeling. Unfamiliar because this time, the American Flag on her cap reminded her of her dream.
The dream she had realized in that moment was one she had thought about since she was a young summer league swimmer. “At four years old, I told my parents I wanted to go to the Olympics. At the time, I could barely swim 25 yards and was bound and determined to [do it],” Hermes recalls.