Cerebral Palsy Cannot Stop High School Swimmer

At age three, Taylor Sanders was diagnosed with monoplegic infantile Cerebral Palsy. Doctors told her parents she would never be able to walk. However, not only did Taylor prove her doctors wrong, but she is also swimming competitively today in Zephyrhills High School’s swim team.

Despite her Cerebral Palsy diagnosis, Taylor was determined to teach herself how to walk. “From the second she was born, she was an inspiration,” said Taylor’s mom, Vanessa Sanders. “She had a strong will to push harder. She taught herself how to walk the wrong way because she was always so driven.”

Because Taylor was only able to walk on her tip toes, she developed a deformity in her right hip. Her hip was rotated 75 degrees when it should be at 15.

She was referred to Westcoast Brace & Limb in Florida, where she received custom ankle-foot orthosis (AFO’s) and occasionally dynamic ankle foot orthosis  (DAFO’s) throughout her childhood.

Despite the pain in her hip and a limp in her gait, Taylor loved being in the pool. “[Swimming] takes the pressure off of my ankle and lets me just work with my muscles,” she said.

Growing up, Taylor’s friends nicknamed her Tadpole. “And then when she got older, they started calling her mermaid, which fit because she had her surgeries, and she wasn’t able to use her legs,” said Vanessa.

Taylor had two major surgeries since November, causing Taylor to miss two swim seasons. The day she got her cast off on August 14, she was in the pool. “The swim team has really helped me because it lets me work with everything that has become weak since my surgeries,” said Taylor.

“She’s doing so well,” said Taylor’s swim coach, Karen Cooley. “She’s made so many personal bests, it’s amazing. She understands the sport, so she’s driven by ‘I want to get better.’ She’s a team player.”

On August 27, Taylor swam her first meet of the season: a 50-meter freestyle in 50 seconds.

Watch the video below to watch Taylor share her full story.

For More Information:

To learn about the benefits of swimming for individuals with Cerebral Palsy, visit our page on aqua therapy.