HUNTER DAILY: SWIM TEAM RALLIES AROUND TEAMMATE
The Daily family has been involved in competitive swimming for years, both locally and while living in Vermont and Virginia. “This team by far is the most welcoming. Overall the tone of the team is different. The kids are friends first, competitors second,” said Roni Daily, mother to three STORM swim swimmers, Hunter (age 17), Thatcher (age 13); and Graham (age 11). “As parents of a Y swimmer, we were welcomed in the fold. The other parents and coaches wanted us to be involved as little or as much as we want.”
Hunter, who is entering his senior year at Souhegan High School, has been on the team for about 15 months. “A few of my friends swam for STORM. They said it was fun being with this group. So I thought I’d try out,” he said.
In January Hunter had a slight pain in his hamstrings. He felt it during swim practice, but after skiing during February school vacation, the pain became worse. “I was managing the pain during swim practice, and was adapting my swim practices with pool buoys and going easy on my kick turns,” he said.
Hunter’s father, Matt Daily, said Hunter “was keeping up with his swim training and swimming six days a week. However that changed in March. “We watched him on the screen (when there were limited spectators during the pandemic) and could see he was struggling.” Hunter said that after one meet at White River Junction, Vermont, in March, “I hit the wall and felt momentarily paralyzed because the pain was so bad.” His parents said he was done with swimming until they could help him get relief.
Hunter saw several neurosurgeons. His pain was due to a herniated disc. He tried many treatments including physical therapy, cortisone injections, and other non-invasive treatments. “I was no longer swimming and I was in horrible pain all the time and now disconnected from the swim team,” Hunter said. His mother added that he couldn’t sit comfortably anymore and walked at an awkward angle to ward off the debilitating pain. “In school he could barely walk or sit; sometimes he had to lay on the floor,” she said.
“This is very isolating for a teenage male. It can be scary. He couldn’t exercise. I was so impressed with these kids who were so thoughtful. They were worried about Hunter,” Matt said. He shared that before surgery in April and May, swim team kids went to their home and texted Hunter all the time. They picked him up for ice cream at Haywards, which had been a favorite spot to gather after swim practice. Team members sent Hunter a gift basket and made posters with uplifting messages for him: “You got this, Hunter,” “See you soon,” and “Hope you’re feeling better!” Two nights before the surgery, his teammates took him out to Sal’s for pizza. They all wished him well and were eager to have him back in the pool for practices.
“We hoped to schedule the back surgery when this school year ended, but he was in too much pain. He’s such a good student and doing so well,” Roni said. Hunter finished the school year strong and only missed a few days of school.
His swim team friends rallied around him both before and after surgery. Teammates picked him up to go to practices. “Having them reach out felt like I wasn’t alone in this situation. I had more people to rely on,” he shared. The message from his friends is: “Just be here. Be with us. We miss you.” Hunter said it’s been very uplifting.
Roni said she got many text messages and calls from the parents and coaches. “The support has been wonderful,” she said. “It was incredible to see that this group of swimmers really connected with my child and rallied around him, supported him. It’s wonderful when you can have teammates who are also friends. They are competitors in the pool, but they are friends first. When your child is in that much pain, he is struggling and depressed. Seeing that he’s still being included in the team, it’s a beautiful thing to see.”
Hunter is feeling much better and is on the mend following surgery. He was told he would have to wait a total of eight weeks before he could start swimming again, “a very conservative estimate,” Matt said. He’s practicing at his home swimming pool using a tether pole and swimming in place to help with his rehabilitation. He’s been able to go to the Y during swim team practice and float in the pool while he heals.
“I was able to go to this week’s meet and catch up with friends. I’ve been a volunteer coach for my younger brother Graham’s team,” Hunter said.
On the evening of this interview, Hunter is hosting 15 teammates at his home. “I sent out a group text about coming over for dinner, swimming and sitting around the fire pit. Within seconds they were responding ‘yes.’ Erin (Coach Erin Jeffers) likes it when the kids get together outside of the pool. It solidified our bond and makes us a better team,” he said.
As Hunter is preparing to enter his senior year of high school, he has started visiting colleges. “I want to swim and college and stay in the New England area.” To date he’s visited Worcester Polytechnic Institute, College of the Holy Cross, Hamilton College, Skidmore College, Le Moyne College, St. Michael’s College, Amherst College, with many more on his list. He plans on majoring in Biology, Bio-Chem, or Pre-Med.
Congratulations on a successful surgery, Hunter. The entire Y family looks forward to cheering you on when you’re back in the pool competing in the Short Course season this August.
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