Hayley Krause submerged herself in the water for the first time in several months and was relieved. The water at the Walter R Bauman Aquatic Center in Middleton felt especially soothing for her right leg, which had been covered by a cast for months.
“It felt really nice, especially on my leg since it hadn’t been wet for so long,” the 12-year-old Krause said.
Krause and Ari Harris, her classmate at Komrey Middle School in Middleton, were involved in a devastating hit-and-run accident in April. It left Krause with two cracked vertebrae, a broken clavicle and a broken leg.
Now, the incoming seventh-grader is looking to move past the accident and return to the everyday life she led before it. Since she’s not the biggest fan of her physical therapy, swimming has been an integral piece of her rehabilitation.
Krause rejoined her Middleton Gators team as quickly as possible. In fact, Krause started swimming when doctors removed her cast and her leg still had a boot on.
“I was a little rusty, but I actually was better than I thought I would be,” Krause said.
Krause will participate in the All-City Swim Meet at Seminole Pool this weekend, swimming her favorite event, the 50-yard backstroke, as well as the 50-yard freestyle.
It’s been quite the journey from the hospital to swim meets, Hayley’s father said.
“This would have been a very easy season for her just to write off,” Tim Krause said. “Hayley’s been swimming for a long time and is pretty accomplished, so when they form relay teams she’s usually on the A-Team.”
Not surprisingly, Hayley’s injuries have impacted her physical abilities. Swimming is a sport in which fractions of seconds are pivotal, and her times, especially in the beginning, were 10 to 12 seconds off her original pace.
Every day though, Krause is improving, she said.
“I think it’s gained more muscle for me and it was harder at first,” she said. “But when I kept doing it, it kept feeling better each day and I got to where I am now.
“I’ve been getting a lot faster every single time.”
At recommendation of her neurosurgeon, Krause didn’t dive off the blocks when she first got back to competing and instead started each race in the water.
Two weeks ago, she began diving from the blocks again, another example of her patience yet a reminder of the accident.
Krause is an active preteen who competes in junior cross country and triathlons. Returning to physical activity, particularly swimming, was important in her recovery, according to her dad.
“Not only did it take her mind off her injuries and all that happened, it’s strengthening her body,” Tim Krause said. “Swimming was ideal because she couldn’t, say, get on a treadmill with her cast or with her boot, but she could get in the pool where there’s a little bit different resistance.”
Most of all, Krause just wants to return to normalcy. She’s still the same girl who loves macaroni and cheese and “Modern Family.” Returning to her team, surrounded by supportive coaches and teammates, has been a huge step in the right direction.
“It makes me happy,” Krause said. “I like that everybody’s not too nice to me, but they still are nice. It was kind of awkward how everyone would be really nice, or nicer than usual.”
Tim Krause knows his daughter didn’t like the extra attention she received during her recovery, but is proud of how she handled what was a serious situation.
“Throughout the entire thing Hayley has had an incredible morale,” he said. “She didn’t get down. She kept being positive. Everyone kind of fed off that. When people would come into the hospital, they didn’t expect Hayley to be cheerful. They expected tubes and monitors and doctors and there was all that, but behind all of that was Hayley’s smile, too.”
Other than Hayley’s physical injuries that resulted in obvious pain and rehab, there were other consequences. She had to forfeit her summer softball season. Scuba diving trips at Lake Mendota and Devil’s Lake were canceled.
Still, Hayley realizes she’s “very lucky” to be where she is compared to the unthinkable alternative.
When asked what she’d tell someone who had to endure a recovery as tough as hers, Krause said: “Keep pushing forward, because it will get better.”
And when she climbs the blocks of Seminole pool this weekend, Krause’s push forward will continue.
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