Swimmer shakes off injury, makes waves in competition

What should have and could have been a season ending injury motivated a 14-year-old Montz resident to do what her doctor said was improbable, if not impossible.

Jesse Lynn LeBoeuf relied on her drive and determination to overcome a freak injury this summer.

On a June 12 visit with her aunt and uncle, a cinderblock fell three feet from porch steps onto LeBoeuf’s left foot.  Her big toe was smashed, the tip of the bone was broken and her toenail was gone. She spent three hours in the emergency room and received 25 stitches to sew her toe back together.

The doctor said she would be on crutches for at least one month, and perhaps, two.  She also could not get the wound wet and risk infection; it was a serious open wound and there were still stitches in her toe. That meant she wouldn’t be able to swim, as per doctor’s orders.

But LeBoeuf didn’t give up on her summer season so easily.  An average summer for LeBouef sees her train hard with her year-round team, Crescent City Swim Club of Metairie, going to daily practices of two hours or more, and, at times, double practices.  Besides swimming with her year-round team, she has been a member of the Sun Villa Sharks swim team of Norco since the age of six.

“I absolutely love to swim,” she said. “Swimming is my one sport and a big part of who I am.”

For the first two weeks after her injury, LeBoeuf was in a lot of pain and was unable to move around with any kind of comfort. She felt depressed and frustrated that she could not do anything and had to rely on crutches to move around.

After three weeks of continued healing, she could not stand it anymore and just had to return to practice.  She was not even 50 percent healed but she missed being in the water.

LeBoeuf decided to focus on what she could accomplish. Going against the orthopedist’s instructions, she and her parents figured out a way to wrap her wound to waterproof it. She went back to daily practice with her year-round team and also swam in the last two regular season meets with her summer club

Just one month after the injury, she participated with Sun Villa in the River Parishes Swim Invitational in Vacherie on July 10 -12. The theme for the meet was “How Sweet It Is,” and it was a fitting name for LeBoeuf’s weekend.  She won first place in all three of her individual events:  50-meter freestyle, 50-meter backstroke and 50-meter butterfly. This achievement earned her the high-point trophy for the 13-14 girls age group. She was moved up an age group to the 15 – 18 year old girls’ 100-meter freestyle relay and helped that team break the Invitational relay record that had been in place since 1998.   Members of her relay team were Abby Rochelle, Katie Waguespack, and Claire Dantin.

“My invitational experience was awesome,”  LeBoeuf said. “It was amazing to be there for my teammates and score points for Sun Villa. Being at Invitational is always a challenge, mostly because you are dealing with the heat and a very long 3-day event.  My toe was swelling the entire meet. I had to deal with the discomfort of that, as well as having to continuously unwrap and re-wrap my toe.

“I was excited about my personal achievement and then the icing on the cake was when I got to swim on a record-breaking relay that was the last race on the last day of the entire weekend. I was thrilled that I could rise to the challenge despite all of the obstacles.”

In July, she joined her year-round team at the 2015 Louisiana State Long Course Championship Swim Meet.  She had qualified in nine events but decided to concentrate on just a few races since her training had been cut short this summer.

Being with her team in Baton Rouge at the L.S.U. Natatorium was, she said, the right decision. The results back that up: She earned two 3rd place finishes, earning her All-State honors.  The top finishes were in the 100-meter butterfly and the 200-meter butterfly.   She advanced to the finals in all four events she participated in.

“To accomplish 3rd place at State with a broken, lacerated toe felt incredible,” LeBoeuf said.   My teammates were great cheerleaders. I don’t know if I could have made it through the weekend without their support.”

Even today, the healing process continues. She walks around with the aid of a boot and still has some stitches in her toe. But because of her strong resolve, Jesse made this a memorable summer, with some championship hardware to back it up.

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