Photo Courtesy: Justin Casterline/UA Athletics
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Injuries, pain and discomfort are sometimes just a part of sports.
“I started having a lot of shoulder pain in my left shoulder,” junior swimmer Bailey Scott said.
But for Scott, the discomfort wouldn’t go away. Still she kept swimming until she couldn’t ignore the problem any longer.
“I dealt with it, swam through it, we couldn’t figure out what was going on,” she said. “Then in about my junior year it started flaring up, and I started going purple and all these crazy things started happening in my hand and I ended up having thoracic outlet syndrome.”
Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a group of disorders that occur when blood vessels or nerves in the space between one’s collarbone and first rib are compressed. In some cases, TOS can lead to more severe problems. Scott took a medical redshirt year and had a rib removed to alleviate the compression, but at the same time she was battling her own disorder, Scott’s mother was battling something much bigger: liver cancer.
“I was about to have surgery in November so I found out about my mom in October,” Scott said. “Surgery in November. She was okay. She was fine for a while.”
Then in April none of the treatments were working. Scott’s mother decided to quit treatment and live out the illness.
“In June of 2016, it kind of took a turn for the worst,” Scott said. “Luckily the last week of her life I was able to spend with her. We didn’t know it obviously, that it was coming, but she ended up passing away June 4 of liver cancer.”
For Scott, it was a whirlwind of events in a short period of time..
“It kind of happened really quickly,” Scott said.
The pain of losing a loved one may discourage some, but a promise made to her late mother only inspired Bailey more.
“Three days before she passed I made a promise that I would come back to school, that I would finish, that I would finish training,” Scott said.
And the training paid off. In the 2017 season, a completely healthy Scott had the best year of her swimming career. Among several accomplishments and record-setting performances, Scott earned 3rd place in the SEC championships in the 50-meter freestyle with a school record time of 21.84 seconds.
“I kind of had a different mindset coming into everything now,” Scott said. “I wasn’t just doing it for myself, which sounds kind of bad, but I was doing it for more than myself. I was doing it for my mom, and the promise that I did to her, and doing it for my team because they were my biggest supporters.”
It didn’t come easy. From the physical pain of her own ailment to the emotional pain of losing her mother, Bailey Scott could have given up. Instead she’s flipping the script.
“It comes to a point where okay, you might be having a horrible day but so is someone else and you need to be that light for that person that is struggling, too, and that’s how I’ve taken my story and kind of turned it into something so negative can be so positive because so many people struggle, and it’s so easy to give up and fall flat, but it’s so much more fulfilling and rewarding when you stand back up and fight against the odds.”