Your entire life can change on a dime. For Dave Riley, the culprit was much smaller than that.

As a search-and-rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard, Riley knew there were risks involved in his profession. But it wasn’t a dangerous rescue that led to tragedy. In fact, the risk was completely invisible to the eye.

While Riley was vacationing off the shores of Dauphin Island, Alabama, bacteria in the water led to an infection which eventually turned septic. His body went into shock, and he fell into a coma. When he woke up three months later, he found all four of his limbs had been amputated in order to save his life.

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Mallory Weggemann has been a competitive swimmer since she was 7 years old. But her future as an athlete took an unexpected turn when she was 18.

In 2008, she went to the hospital to receive her third and final epidural injection that was supposed to help with debilitating post-shingles back pain. Instead, 18-year-old Weggemann was left a paraplegic with complete loss of movement from her abdomen down.

Determined to return to swimming, she was back in the pool just three months later. Her older sister found an article in the local newspaper about the Paralympic Swimming Trials at the University of Minnesota.

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