LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. -- In the Olympics the athlete who overcomes the most obstacles wins a gold medal. For one swimmer from Lee’s Summit, a goal has been met merely by making his high school swim team.
Now people are talking about Sam Smith, a swimmer that's determined to beat more than the clock. A swimmer for Lee’s Summit West, Smith not only looks to beat his competitors, but also cancer. Anytime Smith takes a lap across the pool, he becomes ‘Superman Sam,’ a hero his teammates believe in.
Smith has spent two years battling cancer, which was first discovered after he broke his leg in a football game. When doctors went to repair his injured knee they discovered cancerous cells. In the aftermath, 12 rounds of chemotherapy followed.
The cancer later metastasized and turned up in his lungs, sending Smith back for more chemotherapy. Smith still spends three weeks out of each month getting treatment through a port on his chest.
“You think about it a lot. You think the worst. You think the best,” Smith said.
As part of physical therapy, Smith chose swimming to help strengthen his repaired leg, which now has a titanium rod inside. Smith swam enough to make Lee’s Summit West's swim team. Smith isn't competing in November’s state championships, but while he practices for strength, his teammates benefit from ‘Superman's’ presence in the pool.
“The race before I got my 100-state cut, Sam swam an event before that. I wasn’t feeling real good that day and my coach told me, 'Ben you have it pretty good. Look at Sam,” Smith's teammate, Ben, said.
“It’s just gut determination. He was going to make it happen. He fights cancer the same way,” Lee’s Summit West swimming coach Colleen Gibler said.
As far as his cancer goes, Sam isn't sure what the future holds, but he puts his faith in God that he'll wash cancer away.
“I just try to take it one day at a time. One day at a time adds up,” Smith said.
Sam is inspiring everyone in this community and a few others too. Coach Gibler said that during recent months supporters of other high schools have reached out with donations and support, including those from Blue Springs, Blue Springs South and Platte County High, too. Smith says he's going into surgery in mid-December, to learn more about his story, click on this link.