Mooresville swimmers inspire whole team

Grayson Swaim

Rich Nye/Eyewitness Sports

Mooresville - This weekend, the Boys state swimming finals take center stage. The Mooresville Pioneers won't be there, but they have a reason to be very proud of two incredible swimmers who make no excuses.

Foreign exchange student Yuriy Martinov made quite a splash on the Mooresville swim team. The senior from the Ukraine broke three school records this season.

"Yuriy has powerful legs. He's a great kicker. He has powerful arms. The way he streamlines in the water is amazing," said Grayson Swaim, Mooresville senior swimer.

It's even more amazing because Yuriy has just one fully functional arm. He was born with only a partial left arm.

"Trying to figure out how kids swim is kind of my profession. So when I see a guy that only has one arm being able to swim as proficiently as he is, how he does it. Honestly, I've been in the water with him several times and I don't have the answers," said Dennis Davis, Mooresville swimming coach.

"When I'm swimming, I'm using a lot of my arms. I depend on my arms. I don't see how he can do it and go faster than me. He's really fast," said Matt Hendrickson, Mooersville sophomore swimmer.

Yuriy was born with his disability, most likely because of a nuclear accident in his homeland. Yuriy's hometown is about 250 miles from the Chernobyl power plant, the site of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986.

"Of course I wish to have two. If I had two and lost one, I would probably be upset. But I have no idea how it is to have two arms. So I am fine with what I have," said Yuriy.

Yuriy battled fellow senior Grayson Swaim back-and-forth all season for the school record in the 200 Yard Individual Medley.

Grayson is deaf, and cannot hear the starting signal. He watches for the strobe light. He hears with a cochlear implant, but cannot wear it in the water.

"Some kids go to the deaf school. They have sign language. But I speak. I wasn't raised to use sign language. All that comes from determination, discipline and hard work," he said.

Yuriy and Grayson teamed up for a pair of school relay records.

"We hang out all the time. We compete against each other all the time at practices and meets. We try to beat each other," said Yuriy.

"The number one reason Yuriy is so successful in swimming is because he's so competitive. He hates to lose. I play chess with him sometimes. He beat me 30 times in a row," said Grayson.

"Everybody has things that are not perfect. Some use them as excuses. But then here's two young men who have disabilities from birth who have adjusted and gone on," said Davis.