Just ten months ago, Knox freshman swimmer Madeline Bruce struggled to make it 60 yards in the pool. Last week she exited the pool the holder of four different Knox records.
Battling iron deficiency anemia throughout her high school career, Bruce was forced to take two months off in the spring of last year because of constant fatigue.
“I could feel my body breaking down,” Bruce said. “I never wanted to quit swimming but I knew I had to take a break.”
Taking time to recover and strengthen her body’s ability to store iron was key in helping Bruce arrive at Knox at full strength for what she says was the first time in three years.
Bruce peaked at the Midwest Conference Championships by setting records for the 50 and 100 yard freestyle, 100 butterfly and individual leg in the 800 meter freestyle relay.
Head Coach Jonathan Powers was impressed with her efforts throughout the season and specifically in the period leading up the conference meet.
“As we monitored we saw she was ready to go a week before the conference meet,” Powers said. “Swimming is a tough sport; bodies respond differently. She responded to the challenge.”
Bruce had set the standard for the women’s swim team entering the championships (two of the records she broke at the meet were already hers) earning the nickname ‘Queen Mads’ in the process.
“It was really just a joke I started that caught on,” senior Kaylie Prince said, taking credit for the term of endearment. “She’s just a boss at everything she does [in the pool].”
While swimming may be an individual sport, Prince said that swimmers like Bruce helped facilitate team camaraderie.
“When [Bruce] swam everyone from both [the men’s and women’s] teams were on their feet at the end of the pool,” Prince said. “And she was always the first one to be there for everyone else.”
With Bruce Performing at such a high level as a freshman, Powers is optimistic about her future.
“It was fun to see how good of times she was able to do, and I’m looking forward to the next few years with her.”
For Bruce it’s all about embracing a chance to swim again.
“I’m just really glad that I’m here. [Coach Powers] truly cares about us and has been a huge help,” Bruce said.