Swimming Through the Pain
The Journey of the Swimmer
BY JESSICA COLBY
She takes a deep breath and opens the car door. Alyssa Ege hops out of the car into Minnesota State University Moorhead’s crazy campus on Move-In Day. She had butterflies in her stomach not because of moving across the river, but knowing she will be more on her own with her past still on her mind.
Ege, freshmen, at MSUM has faced many obstacles during her swimming career in high school. She had hip surgery on her right hip when she was 14 years old due to Femoroacetabular impingement or FAI and a labral tear. FAI is a condition in which extra bone grows along one, or both, of the bones that form the hip joint, giving the bones irregular shape.
Alyssa Ege after her first hip surgery. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Ege.
Thinking this was a one-time occurrence for her, Ege continued to swim, during her sophomore year, under restrictions.. She would only pull and not use her legs due to her recovery. She then swam the last four weeks of her season and qualified for state.
Once Ege was 17 years old she started to have stomach problems.
“It felt like I had the flu for 4 months and then we finally did a biopsy to figure out what was going on,” said Ege.
Alyssa Ege gives a thumbs up after her biopsy at Mayo Clinic. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Ege.
Turns out Ege had severe food allergies. Peanuts, gluten, soy, dairy and shellfish being the issue.
Ege continued to swim but started to have pain on her left hip, and was required to once again undergo surgery– FAI was back, along with another labral tear. Opting to postpone her surgery until after the season was over, Ege swam her entire senior season with a torn labrum and FAI.
Alyssa Ege cheers after her second successful hip surgery. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Ege.
“Every time I swam breaststroke our athletic trainer would slip it (hip joint) back into place after practice,” said Ege.
Now, with her past still on her mind, Ege is swimming on the MSUM swim and dive team.
Megan Sanford, assistant coach of the MSUM swim and dive team, recruited Ege between her junior and senior year of high school.
“She is a Fargo/Moorhead athlete, so we worked with her specifically her junior and senior year to have her come to MSUM,” said Sanford.
During the off season of her high school swim season, Ege would practice with the Red Dragons swim club housed in Nemzek.
“Her character and her personality and work ethics. When we worked with her in the summer with Red Dragons, she was there everyday when she said she was going to. She drastically changed her strokes and took what she learned and took it into her senior year of swimming,” said Sanford.
Sanford says Ege’s commitment towards swimming says a lot about her–especially swimming with the injuries she had.
“She may have not been the fastest swimmer we have recruited but her efforts and dedication outshined that,” said Sanford continuing, “that what we want on the team, everyone can be fast but only a few can be so dedicated.”
“Coming in before I met everyone, I thought I wasn’t going to fit in,” said Ege.
Little did she know, she had a whole new group of friends to support her through her freshman year, especially in November when she started to feel sick again.
Alyssa Ege listens to music with her teammates before her races. Photo courtesy of Skyler Zak.
“I couldn’t eat anything,” said Ege. “I went to the doctor and they didn’t find anything new during the biopsy but I had an ultrasound after and they saw fluid in my right kidney.”
Ege also had her wisdom teeth removed, severe strep throat–all during her first semester at MSUM.
“It was great,” said Ege.
Ege is now in her second semester at MSUM and she is healthier than ever.
Ege competed at the NSIC championships, which is the last meet of the season, in Fargo in February. She competed in the 100 individual medley, 50 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke and time trialed the 50 breaststroke.
“I didn’t get the best times I wanted but considering how I changed my stroke entirely, been sick for too many days to count and getting surgery; I am happy for just competing,” said Ege.
Ege is ready to jump back in the pool this week while MSUM swim and dive start their post-season.
(Jessica Colby is majoring in Exercise Science and Multimedia Journalism with three minors at MSUM. She is from Anoka, Minnesota and is the head coach of the Red Dragons swim club in Moorhead. Contact her by email at email@example.com)