U.S. Army Sergeant Elizabeth Marks had one of the most successful Paralympic swimming careers you can imagine. She most recently not only won the gold medal in the women’s SB7 100-meter breaststroke, she set a new world record. Marks, an active duty service member of the U.S. Army, shattered the previous record of 1:28.83 by finishing in just 1:28.13. She earned the U.S. their first medal of the night and earned herself the accomplishment of a lifetime.
Marks served as a combat medic in Iraq. She received serious injures to her hip while deployed in 2010. Her desire to remain an active duty service member brought her to the pool for rehab. She made such amazing progress that she was declared fit for duty and accepted in to the Army’s World Class Athlete Program in 2012.
Despite her progress and promising future she had one more near-death experience to overcome. In 2014 she nearly died when her lung collapsed after flying to London to participate in the Invictus games. She was immediately put on a lung machine, saving her life. She slipped into a short coma but made a full recovery.
Less than one month later she won gold at the World Military Swimming and Para-Swimming open. She decimated her competition, which was made up almost entirely of men. Her next major victory came during the 2016 Invictus games when she won yet another gold. She used this opportunity ask Prince harry to donate the medal to the staff of Papworth Hospital, the same people that saved her life in 2014.
As you can see, Marks has a rich history of winning, but that didn’t stop her from being shocked at breaking a world record. When questioned about her record-setting performance she told reporters:
“I had no idea [I was winning] I can’t see when I am swimming. About 25 meters in, I have no idea where anybody else is. As long as I feel pressure on my hands, I know it is going well. I was just hoping for the best and putting everything I had into it.”
Marks has stated on several occasions that her passion to swim comes entirely from her drive to make her fellow soldiers proud. It’s safe to say that she has gone above and beyond her call of duty with her most recent performance.