By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Caitlin Evenson had a lot to live up to when she came to Sprague four years ago with her older brother being Colby.
Some people shy away from their older sibling’s success, but she embraced it entering her Freshman year having swam competitively since she was eight years old.
But the injury bug plagued the Olympian swimmer. Appendicitis going into Districts derailed Evenson’s freshman campaign.
She bounced back the next year. Joined water polo, they qualified for State her sophomore and Junior years and scored 55 goals for Sprague as a Senior, before going to State in swim as a sophomore in the 200-meter freestyle relay.
Now the stage itself could be terrifying for anyone let lone an underclassman like Evenson was. But again, when swimming is life, it’s no big deal.
“State was basically like being at a club meet or at club state so basically just with more teams and faster swimming to compete against. Unfortunately, that was my only year going to high school state, but for club I’ve been almost every year since I was eight and even qualified for the Oregon All-Stars travel team when I was 12,” said Evenson.
“Swimming has just been around in my life for so long I’m not ready to let go of it yet and overall through my high school and club swimming career I feel like it wasn’t completed, I know I have a lot more to give and want to see what my full potential is.”
Linfield College is on her horizon after this year, joining older brother Colby who transferred to Wildcat Country after competing at Seattle University for his freshman year to be closer to home.
But the current to get to the next turn of college was turbulent. Challenges presented itself to Evenson that not just pushed the Sprague swimmer physically, but mentally and physically.
“I never thought I’d be second guessing myself on whether or not to keep swimming,” starts Evenson. “During my junior swim season when I had the leg pain that’s when I battled it the worst because I was adding time and just not having fun getting beat up in the pool and feeling pain almost all the time.”
Here’s how and why.
Following her sophomore season swimming, during track season, she had some leg/foot pain. They went looking for answers, and her physical therapist thought she should go get her scoliosis rechecked.
In a way they found the source. The spine was the issue yes and it involved her scoliosis.
She swam her Junior year in the crazy split district meet with the Bend schools in the now Mountain Valley Conference and did Water Polo, but wanted answers when the two seasons were completed.
The verdict: a tethered spinal cord caused by the scoliosis.
On top of that she had a synovial cyst, which is she is still dealing with, as well as trying to correct the tethered spinal cord.
Recovery from the tethered spinal cord was crazy for Evenson, who had the procedure done in August. The first day after the procedure she couldn’t sit up or walk. The same week, basically being bed-ridden with those terrible Spinal Headaches.
“Oh man I do not complain about normal headaches anymore,” joked Evenson about the spinal headaches.
Slowly she came around, missing the first four games of the Water Polo season during the six-week recovery period. But once she was cleared, she was on a mission for the Olys Water Polo team.
“I was determined to leave my mark at Sprague and I ended up scoring 55 goals in a season, which is the most recorded on MaxPreps for Sprague Water Polo girls,” said Evenson. “I think I sat out four games and as soon as the six weeks of not being able to get in the water after my back surgery, I was ready to go.”
Call it adrenaline or sheer determination, she achieved a goal. But adversity struck again.
“I went back to swim practice and was ready to have one last go at things and then I got really sick and had a swollen lymph node scare had to have a biopsy on it and everything which scared my parents so much but it ended up going away after like three months,” said Evenson.
It was a blessing in disguise after what she had gone through it wasn’t anything too serious.
Evenson swam in her last District Meet this past Winter, finishing her High School career on her terms before heading to McMinnville to swim for Linfield this upcoming season.
They say adversity makes you stronger. It makes you better and smarter once you come out the other side of it.
And when she puts on the swimming cap and googles this upcoming season, she’ll be doing it next to her biggest role model:
“To make of this opportunity ahead I’m beyond excited I can’t wait and not only will I be getting a second chance and doing something big and getting to feel successful,” starts Evenson. “I’ll be getting to swim alongside my biggest role model again and that’s my older brother Colby. He originally committed to Seattle U to swim D1 and ended up transferring to Linfield this year to be closer to home. So, the Evenson duo will be back and this time at Linfield!”