Tri Club Tuesday: D3 Athlete competes at IRONMAN World Championships after serious waterskiing injury

From Livewell Nebraska
By Kelsey Stewart

 

When Steve Nabity first took up triathlon training, he didn’t know how to swim, and he didn’t own a road bike.

The 61-year-old has since put six Ironman competitions under his belt. He made it to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii last year, but a stomach bug hindered his performance. In October, Nabity returned to Hawaii to compete against more than 2,000 athletes in the sport’s iconic event.

Swimming and cycling were the Omaha man’s best options after he sustained a serious waterskiing injury.

Four years ago, Nabity and a group of friends were waterskiing in Tennessee. The then 57-year-old hadn’t been on the water in a few years, but he felt confident. When the boat started moving, Nabity attempted to stand up on his skis.

Instead of gracefully slaloming across the water, Nabity ended up doing the splits. Above the sound of the boat and water, he heard a ripping sound, like a piece of paper being torn.

His friends pulled Nabity from the water. By the time they got back to the dock, Nabity had fainted from the pain. Since they were in rural Tennessee, it took over an hour for an ambulance to arrive. When it did, paramedics decided to have Nabity life-flighted to the nearest hospital.

Doctors didn’t realize the scope of the injury until Nabity returned to Omaha. He had torn all three hamstring tendons off the bone of his right leg.

After surgery, Nabity spent six weeks in a brace. Unable to bend his legs, he spent his time either standing or resting flat on a recliner. He graduated to walking carefully. Leg and hamstring lifts during physical therapy helped rebuild his strength. Doctors encouraged Nabity to pick up low-impact exercises such as swimming and bicycling. “Those are for wimps,” he told them.

But when Nabity, CEO of Accu- Quilt, cheered on his son during an Ironman race in Idaho, it set things in motion.

His goal: make it to the race series’ marquee event in Kona, Hawaii, before he turned 80. The full-distance race consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.

“You never know what’s going to happen on your path or your journey,” Nabity said. “This probably is not the way I would have started out with Ironman. You’re doing life and a curve ball happens. All you can do is control your effort.”

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