Athlete of the Week: Owen Miller wins through adversity
PORTAGE, Mich. —
A Portage Central High School swimmer is making a name for himself in the water, and doing it in the face of adversity.
The Mustangs' Owen Miller took the individual state championship in the 200-meter freestyle, something few Michigan swimmers have accomplished.
“It was surreal, I didn't believe that it was true,” Miller said of the win.
His accomplishment is even rarer than that, considering he competes with Type 1 Diabetes
Miller was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago, right before his last final exam his freshman year. But he attacked the disease the only way he knew how – keep working, keep swimming.
All Miller has done since then is attack the disease the only way he knows how – keep working, keep swimming.
“It was really emotional for me I wasn't prepared, obviously, for such big news,” Miller said. “Especially at such an already stressful point. I was very nervous that I wasn't going to be able to swim. I wasn't sure how that would affect my swimming abilities.”
In short, it hasn't affected his ability to swim, rather quite the opposite.
“I guess you could say maybe it helps a little bit, because I have to eat healthier now. I'm not able to eat all that much junk food as I used to,” he said.
At practice, Miller uses an electronic pump to check his blood sugar, and then he works.
“He's taking care of business and he's got a monitor everything that eats, he has to monitor his blood sugar, and I've never heard of one's complain. About any of those type of things,” head coach Jim Schafer said.
Despite staring diabetes in the face, Miller's outlook remains that of a champion.
“Just don't let it stop you, and I can deal with anything,” he said. “Diabetes of all things, you could have something a lot worse. Overall, you're pretty lucky and you can still have a pretty normal life.”
In addition to winning a state title in the 200-meter freestyle, Miller placed third in the 500 meter.
When asked how he'd feel if he's able to repeat as state champion, Miller said it would feel just as surreal as the first one.