It was a victory for Ben Gore just to qualify for state after he suffered a ruptured pancreas in a dirt-bike accident last fall.
FEDERAL WAY — There probably will be more successful state-meet appearances for Ben Gore. There likely won’t be any that are more satisfying, however, than his single swim on Friday.
The Mercer Island freshman swam in the preliminaries of the 200-yard freestyle at the Class 3A state championships at the King County Aquatic Center. He won’t swim for a title on Saturday, but does have the top qualifying time in the consolation finals (1 minute, 48.78 seconds).
But considering that a few months ago doctors were repairing his ruptured pancreas, any appearance at state was going to be a victory.
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“He’s a tough kid,” Mercer Island coach Chauntelle Johnson said. “I’d like to say I didn’t expect this, but I did.”
The injury was sudden.
Gore races BMX bikes with a group called Dirt Corps. He was doing a warm-up run in a costumed Halloween event when he crashed while taking his bike over a roller.
The handlebars “went right into him, compressed the pancreas into the spine and tore his pancreas in half,” said his father, Jay Gore. “He had no chance to get out of the way.”
The crash knocked the wind out of him, but it was an hour before Gore began throwing up and showing symptoms of something more serious.
His dad took him immediately to Valley Medical Center in Renton and he was soon hospitalized at Harborview.
“I was in the hospital for eight days, then another week and a half at home, doing nothing,” Gore said. “I finally got back in the pool right before winter break.”
Once able to swim again, Gore went hard at it. During a family vacation in Puerto Rico while school was out, he did two-a-day workouts in the water and on land. He had to regain strength after losing 25 pounds from an already slim frame.
He was back in competition in January.
“I had a pretty average season until districts,” Gore said. “After the accident, I did not think I’d make it to state at all.”
At the district meet, Gore slashed five seconds off his time in the 200 free, and he went to state as the ninth seed.
“It’s so rewarding to see him, as a parent, make the commitment and have his efforts pay off,” his father said. “Make it or not, we’re just glad he’s healthy and back swimming. But he knew he was dropping time. He knew it was there.”