The Canal Winchester Times

Swimming & Diving

Boyer gains motivation from mother's recovery

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Senior Sydney Boyer of the Canal Winchester High School girls swimming and diving team is the first to admit that she wasn't blessed with much natural athletic talent.

But whenever she struggles to overcome an obstacle in swimming or any other part of life, she looks to her mother for inspiration.

Despite suffering a traumatic brain injury that put her in a coma for more than a month and nearly claimed her life, Bobbi Boyer has worked to regain the ability to talk, write, eat and walk short distances with assistance.

"I'm not very athletic and swimming has never come naturally to me like it does for so many other kids," Sydney said. "I'm not the fastest swimmer and I've had to really work hard to get to where I am today. When I started swimming for my high school team, I was nervous because I didn't think I'd be able to keep up with the faster girls.

"But I like a challenge and my mom has made me realize that I can do anything I set my mind to if I work hard at it. My mom's a great role model because she's had to overcome so many big obstacles just to be able to do things that most of us take for granted, like eating, writing and talking. When I look at what my mom's accomplished, it proves to me that I can do things that I originally thought I couldn't do."

Bobbi worked as an elementary school teacher for 10 years, and she and her husband, Tim, have two children in Sydney, 18, and a son, Spencer, 13.

However, 13 months after Spencer was born, the lives of the Boyer family were changed forever.

In March 2000, after watching a "Beauty and the Beast" musical at Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus, Tim, Bobbi and Sydney were struck by a car while crossing a street.

Tim was sent airborne over the car and suffered two broken legs and numerous lacerations, and Bobbi and Sydney were run over, with Bobbi suffering head trauma, a broken neck and a ruptured spleen and Sydney suffering a concussion, a broken right leg and severe burns to her buttocks.

Sydney needed multiple surgeries to repair her broken femur and had to undergo a skin graft on her buttocks. Tim also underwent multiple surgeries for his broken tibias and still occasionally walks with a limp.

Bobbi's injuries, however, have been life-altering, as she spends most of her day in a wheelchair and needs to be cared for on a daily basis.

"Everything changed for our family that day, and we still live with the effects of what happened every day," Tim said. "After all of the obstacles we've faced, we're just happy we've been able to make it this far back down the road to recovery, and we couldn't have done it without the support of our family, friends and community.

"Sydney's been very positive through this whole experience and we couldn't ask for a better daughter."

Sydney began swimming at age 10 and has been competing year-round in the sport since she was 11.

Last season, she finished 28th in the 500-yard freestyle in the Division I sectional meet at Upper Arlington in a personal-record 7 minutes, 43 seconds.

On Dec. 29, she swam her 50-free split in the 200 free relay in a personal-best 33.84 during Grandview's Yule at the Pool at Columbus Aquatics Center.

"My times aren't close to the best in the area, but I'm proud of them because I had to work really hard to get them," Sydney said. "It took me 1 minute, 10 seconds to finish the 50 free when I first started swimming it, so I've come a long way. My goals are to get my times down to 30 seconds in the 50 free and under 7:30 in the 500 free and to get the best out of myself every day."

Bobbi attends her daughter's meets when handicap access is available.

"I just enjoy seeing her happy," Bobbi said.

Sydney, who carries a 3.8 GPA, spends part of her free time doing community service as a member of the National Honor Society.

She is an officer of Ohio Model United Nations, which simulates the United Nations, and gave a speech in front of more than 3,000 peers Dec. 10 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Sydney also is a skilled artist who has taken drawing, painting, fashion design and ceramics classes at Columbus College of Art and Design and is a member of Canal Winchester's French Club, which spent three weeks traveling across France last summer.

Sydney is in the process of selecting a college, where she plans to major in both French and International Studies.

"I'll probably continue to swim for fun, but I'm looking forward to advancing my studies at a higher level," she said. "I want to become fluent in French and to pick up another language, maybe Chinese or Arabic. My long-term goal is to become a diplomat and work for the United Nations. I hope I can change the world in a positive way someday."

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