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Blind Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal vet makes splash in Paralympics

Pilot Online  Washington Post  September 4, 2012

“Where is he?” said Brian Loeffler, looking down the empty lane of a 50-meter pool at 7 in the morning.

To his right, a masters practice was finishing up. In front of him, early risers were doing laps. He didn’t seem overly concerned that his star swimmer had disappeared.

“There he is,” the coach said, and called to a man at the far end of the pool. “Brad, you’re two lanes over.”

As the swimmer moved along the wall at the shallow end back to the correct lane, Loeffler explained that his charge sometimes submarines under the lane line when sprinting the breaststroke. It wouldn’t happen if he weren’t pushing himself in the final weeks before the Paralympic Games in London.

And also if he weren’t blind.

Bradley Snyder is midway through a seven-event schedule at the Paralympic Games, which end Sept. 9. He won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle Friday and a silver in the 50-meter freestyle Saturday. A former captain of the U.S. Naval Academy’s swim team, Snyder never imagined he would be in this meet. Nevertheless, it marks his return to a sport that once helped define who he was, before bad luck changed everything.

In Afghanistan a year ago, Snyder, a Navy lieutenant, was working with the Virginia Beach-based Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 12 when he stepped on a homemade land mine. His face took the brunt of the blast. He now has two glass eyes.

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Bomb Disposal, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Improvised Explosive Devices | , , , | Leave a comment