Scott seeks gold in London at 2012 Paralympic Games

Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Susan Beth Scott starts in the final of the women’s 50-meter freestyle S10 at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. (Greg Baker ~ Associated Press)

Cape Girardeau native Susan Beth Scott will be competing in her second Paralympic Games, which open today in London.

The 20-year-old Scott will be among 20 females and 14 males on the U.S. swim squad and will be competing in four events individually and at least one relay.

Scott competed in six events in the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing and won a bronze medal in the 400-meter freestyle S10 classification.

She earned a spot on this year's team by clocking 4 minutes, 38 seconds in the 400-meter freestyle at the U.S. Paralympic Swimming Trials in mid-June in Bismarck, N.D. Scott currently is ranked No. 1 in the world in the event in the S10 classification.

Her first event in London will be the 50 freestyle Friday. She also will compete in the 100 backstroke, 400 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay. She may also swim on the 400 medley relay team.

Scott, who was born with a form of spina bifada, has been swimming in Paralympic competitions since 2004. She has won gold at numerous international competitions and was nominated for the ESPY awards for Best Female Athlete with a Disability in 2008 after setting a world record in the 400 freestyle at the U.S. Paralympic Swimming Trials.

Scott has competed on every continent but Australia.

The Southeast Missourian caught up with Scott by e-mail this past weekend in Europe as she prepares for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

Q: How do your times compare to 2008?

A: My times are considerably faster than 2008 for the most part.

Q: What is it like swimming in front of a full house? I heard the crowds in Beijing were about 10,000 every night. Ever have crowds like that anywhere else?

A: The crowds in Beijing were definitely the biggest I have ever swam before, and I loved the chance to be able to do that. Swimming is something I am passionate and excited about, and it's an amazing thing to be able to do something you love in front of so many people who are also excited.

Q: Any change in your outlook or approach in your second Paralympic Games?

A: I was 16 years old in Beijing and in addition to some of the normal things everyone experiences during that time period, I have personally undergone quite a few changes in the past few years and I believe God has been shaping me through a lot of those. Going into London, I am no longer swimming for just myself, but to glorify God. I have put my heart into this sport and am placing my faith in Him and that whatever happens brings Him glory.

Q: What did you learn from Beijing that might help you this time?

A: In Beijing, I think the biggest thing I learned was to focus only on the things I am able to control and to let God take care of the rest. I believe that is really all anyone can do in life.

Q: Where do you keep your bronze medal? Is is displayed differently than other medals?

A: To me, the actual medal is not as important to me as the experiences I have had. I gave it to my mom for her to display in any way she wishes. My mom has always been my hero and has been extremely supportive of my swim career, so I see it only fitting that she keeps it as a reminder that I would not have it without her.

Q: Was winning the bronze medal the highlight of your swim career to this point? If not, what was?

A: I have had many moments that I consider "highlights" of my career, and although it is difficult to choose one, I would say that it was probably at the World Championships [in Eindhoven, Netherlands] in 2010, getting the opportunity to race on the gold medal winning team in the finals of the 4x100 medley relay along with Jessica Long, Mallory Weggeman and Ashley Owens. We were behind for most of the race, and watching Ashley race to the front to out-touch the other teams was amazing for me and helped me to realize more of what it means to be a part of Team USA.

Q: You have the fastest time in the 400 freestyle and were third in it in Beijing. Do you view it as your best chance for a medal in London?

A: I have some strong competition in all of my races, and all I can do is go and give everything I've got in all of my races and let God take care of the rest. But yes, I would say that the 400 is my best chance at a medal.

Q: Do you think others look at you as the favorite in the event?

A: As I stated earlier, I have some strong competitors in this race, so it's difficult to say if there is a favorite at all.

Q: When are the prelims for events? Are they the same day?

A: The prelims for the events I am swimming will be on the morning of the finals: Aug. 31 (50 free), Sept. 4 (100 backstroke), Sept. 5 (400 free), Sept. 6 (100 free).

Q: I heard you're not going to participate in the opening ceremonies. Why not? Did you participate in Beijing?

A: Although I would love to participate in opening ceremonies, it is a long night. And with a race on the second day of competition, I will want to be getting as much rest as possible. I did not participate in the Beijing opening ceremonies for this reason, also.

Q: What are your future plans? Compete in 2016 in Rio?

A: I am waiting until after London to decide on if I want to continue my career as a competitive swimmer. I do have plans to start focusing on working towards my degree and hopefully eventually becoming a special education teacher

Q: Ever been to London? Anything you want to see while there?

A: I have not been outside the airport in London and am very excited to see everything I am able to while I am there!

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