November 5, 2013

MIT Swimming and Diving Welcomes Theo St. Francis Back to the Pool

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - On Friday, Nov. 2, the MIT swimming and diving teams welcomed home one of their own. Theo St. Francis, who was paralyzed in an accident in late August, joined the team during one of his last days in Boston before heading to his next rehab venue prior to going home to California. In a practice designed to inspire and honor Theo, it quickly became evident that it would work the other way around - he would be inspiring the team.

Theo was slated to start classes this fall with the MIT class of 2017 until an impact accident during a pre-orientation program left him with a broken C6 vertebra, paralyzing him from the chest down. In the past two months, Theo has made great strides towards regaining strength and stabilization in his body. This week, he is transferring to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta to continue his rehab, after which he will return to his hometown in Northern California. While his teammates here at MIT are busy attending classes, working through problem sets, and training in the pool, Theo has been attacking his therapies with a fierce determination, unwavering focus, a sense of humor and a remarkably-positive attitude, allowing him to make steady improvements and exceed expectations.

The MIT swimming and diving family was excited and honored to have Theo in attendance on Friday when he addressed the team and then spent time cheering on his teammates as they raced relays designed to break world records. In an exciting and emotional afternoon, the team came together on a new level, inspired by Theo's enthusiasm and commitment to the swimming family and to his own recovery. Being surrounded by his friends and family and the familiar smell of chlorine was just what Theo needed as he begins the next chapter of his recovery. Theo is planning to begin classes in the fall of 2014 and to be involved with the team upon his return.

The MIT swim team will be selling t-shirts designed by Theo and his brother at the MIT Winter Invitational in early December. All proceeds will go to the Theo Fund, which was set up by his friends to help the St. Francis family with medical expenses. More information will be available before the Invite. 

If you wish to send support to the Theo Fund, please contact associate head swimming and diving coach Karin Brown at kbrown2@mit.edu.

Your support is greatly appreciated.