It’s been sixteen years since Brent Carpenter’s life-changing injury.
“I dove into the pool with a shallow dive, hit the front of my head, and that knocked me out completely,” Carpenter said. “And I woke up on the surface where I couldn’t move any extremities.”
Paralyzed by the accident, the eastern North Carolina resident never gave up.
“The smallest little things can help you tremendously. So I have a saying that small steps are monumental gains,” Carpenter said.
Those small steps have served him well. Brent has since regained partial function of his hands and arms. He’s also tackled a massive personal goal, completing an annual charity event called “The Crossing” that takes place at Lake Gaston.
“The idea is that you’re crossing this part of the lake, which is give or take a mile, and however you want to – you can swim, you can kayak, you can float, paddle board, however you can get across,” Carpenter’s trainer, Susan Callis, said.
“A lot of people thought, ‘You are swimming this with a life-jacket, right?’ I was like, ‘Absolutely not.’ I wanted to do this just like everybody else was doing this and show people that anything’s possible,” Carpenter said.
Brent’s mindset and persistence served him well.
“We started out working on pool entry and exit,” said Callis, “and then working on water safety skills, working on breath control and lap swimming, holding his breath underwater.”
“It started as a half mile”, said Carpenter, “then I got three quarters there and then I got to the point where I was doing it consecutively during the week”.
It’s evidence-in-action that anything is possible with commitment, dedication and no shortage of cheerleaders.
“You do whatever you can to get across, first of all”, said Carpenter. “But I have always swam on my back when it comes to long distances. So when I came up to the finish line, I couldn’t see, you know, I didn’t have eyes in the back of my head. But when I turned around and Susan was right beside me like, you know, I heard the biggest applause I’ve had since playing sports when I was walking. To achieve a goal like that is, it’s priceless”.
It’s one impressive goal down with many more to follow.
“I think my goal each year is to make the world more accessible”, said Carpenter, “to not only my friends, but just people in my community that’s going through the struggle like me.”