Columbia City's Grace Schaekel signs with Valparaiso University swim

April 4, 2023

A year-and-a-half ago, Columbia City swimmer Grace Schaekel returned to the pool after a very serious heart issue.

"I was diagnosed with a third-degree heart block," Grace recounts to PSM. "Doctors had to put a pacemaker in my chest."

Grace was out of the water for six months, missing her entire sophomore swimming season. When Grace was finally cleared to get back in the pool, part of the recovery process was getting mobility and strength in her shoulders so she could swim at a higher level again.

"When I first got back in the pool, I didn't have the full range of moment yet," Grace says.

That's when she started with PSM Performance's EDGE program, which is individualized training for athletes of all abilities and all sports. EDGE helped Grace resume competitive swimming by strengthening her shoulder strength and mobility. 

"I didn't want to strain my shoulder even more trying to get that muscle mass back," Grace says. "After I had all that mobility and strength back, we kept working. I can do pull-ups, I could do push-ups. It's all making a difference in my sport."

"I've spent countless hours of time in the pool and countless hours at PSM making my body stronger," she says.

In her comeback campaign as a junior, Grace finished 7th in the 50-meter freestyle and 6th in the 100-meter backstroke at the sectional meet. As senior, she finished 7th in the 50-meter freestyle again, 8th in the 100-meter freestyle and 4th in the medley relay at sectionals.

She also played soccer and competed in track throws at Columbia City. She does her club swimming with the Whitley County Rapids.

Grace signed in March her national letter of intent to join the women's swimming team at Valparaiso University. 

"It's been a whirlwind for sure. Just telling myself you're fast enough to be able to compete with those girls 
that are at other Division I schools that I'll be competing against next year. I've been in the pool
since I was 6 years old.It's not an easy sport to just pick up and start doing. But, if you have the dedication to do it, you can do it just fine."

Grace plans to major in communications at Valpo, and study minors in psychology and sociology.


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