Olympic swimmer Kathleen Baker became a Team USA mainstay with her improbable run in the 100-meter backstroke at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. Paired against already-made stars like Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin, Baker was the one who stood out, finishing second in just 59.29 seconds.
She would go on to win silver in the event in Rio and a gold medal in the 4x100 m relay. While capturing Olympic glory, Baker also was able to stand as a positive example and become a top Crohn’s Disease speaker.
Baker was originally diagnosed with Crohn’s when she was 12 years old, experiencing complications that made it difficult to continue to excel in swimming at a high level.
"I love swimming more than anything in this world, and I just couldn't comprehend why I deserved to have something like this, where I felt like my swimming was going to be taken away from me," Baker expressed.
Baker decided to conceal her condition out of the embarrassment she felt after receiving her diagnosis in 2010, blaming her weight issues on a stomach problem. She later told the New York Times that she didn’t want to be known as a child who is known for being sick. Baker eventually met a doctor who believed she was much more than just that and who was willing to work with her to treat her condition in a way that would allow her to pursue her Olympic dreams. As a result, this allowed her to live the normal teenage life she desired outside of swimming.
While Baker seemed to be in control of her situation, another complication emerged; Baker’s hospital infusions of prescription drugs had stopped working. She then turned to a new medication, which she continues to use, requiring self-administered bi-weekly injections into the abdomen.
Although it was far from pleasant, Baker has been able to share her journey as a Crohn’s Disease speaker while achieving her swimming goals. She soon rose through the ranks of competitive swimming after winning four medals at the World Junior Championships in 2013.
At this time, Baker’s training sessions were limited to seven times a week while her teammates were training an average of ten times. She stated that this decision was the right one for her since health was her top priority.
Last year was another time that Baker had to switch up how much she trained in the pool due to the coronavirus pandemic. Her target remains the same, however, qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in multiple events.
"I'm using this time to really focus on some of my weaknesses out of the water and being creative when I get a chance to train in the water," Baker said.
If you want to book a Crohn’s disease speaker like Kathleen Baker or one of the other top Team USA stars, contact our agents at Athlete Speakers. We have been in business over 20 years and work with hundreds of clients each year. Fill out our Online Booking Request Form or call us at 1-800-916-6008 to get started today!