A Merced native is going to have a second chance at winning a medal for Team U.S.A's paralympic swimming team at the championships in Mexico City.
Tye Dutcher, 21, first time competing in the Paralympics was last year in Rio De Janiero, where he qualified for five swimming events. This time around he'll be competing in six events, ranging from the 100 backstroke to relays, he told the Sun-Star in an interview.
Dutcher said he's going to work as hard as he can to win a medal during the competition taking place Dec. 2-7.
When Dutcher was 11-years-old attending Merced's Peterson Elementary School, he was in a lawnmower accident that caused him to lose his right foot, he said.
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"From then I just kept doing what I can and never gave up," Dutcher said. "In my first surgery, first thing I said to my mom is, 'I know this happened for a reason.' I knew I had a purpose in all this."
During his time at Merced High School, Dutcher said, he was a swimmer and water polo player. His sophomore year, he said, he moved to Washington state where he was invited to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Dutcher said he moved there full-time to train a week after high school graduation, " to peruse his dreams of representing the country."
Dutcher had hoped he could follow in the footsteps of his four siblings and join the military, he said, but as an amputee, he couldn't.
"So this is my way of representing my country," Dutcher said. "I love it too because I love to swim and that's something that really helped me."
Dutcher is also planning to compete in Tokyo at the 2020 Paralympics, he said.
For kids who are in similar situations as Dutcher, he says "just get back up from it. Don't quit, keep going."
Monica Velez, 209-385-2486, @monicavelez21