Stephanie Vrettakos, a business and entrepreneurship major at HPU, competed in the 2013 World Dwarf Games in August where she won a gold medal in the 50 meter breast stroke, a silver medal in the 100 meter breast stroke, and a silver medal from competing with the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team.
The medals are a major victory for anyone, but especially for Vrettakos after major back surgery prevented her from swimming from 2006 until May of this year. That’s when she decided it was time to get back into the water and return to the sport she loved.
“I found a great coach and decided it was time to compete,” says Vrettakos, who competed in the Dwarf Athletic Association of America while growing up. “I’m not competitive, but my coach showed me that you don’t have to be. You compete for yourself and you compete against yourself.”
The games were held Aug. 2-10 at Michigan State University, and Aug. 4 is the day Vrettakos received the gold.
“I had four swim events that I competed in back to back, so I didn’t even realize I had won gold in the second event until it was all over that night,” says Vrettakos, a native of Ellicott City, Md. “After my events, I checked my phone to find a lot of messages from my friends and family congratulating me on receiving a gold medal. I was shocked.”
Vrettakos brought the three medals back to campus and plans to join the HPU Club Swim Team now that she is actively competing in swimming again.
“Swimming in the World Dwarf Games this summer showed me that hard work and dedication go a long way,” adds Vrettakos. “If you asked me in May where I would be at the end of the summer, I never thought I’d be able to say I am a world champion. I hope to continue competing and see how far swimming takes me.”