Former Bartram Trail swimmer Morgan Ray overcomes more obstacles at Paraswimming World Championships

Morgan Ray, right, prepares to begin the 400 meter freestyle finals at the Paraswimming World Championships in Madeira, Portugal. (Madeira 2022, 2022 WJXT)

After earning a spot on Team USA, former Bartram Trail swimmer Morgan Ray arrived at the Paraswimming World Championships in Portugal only to test positive for COVID-19. After being cleared on Wednesday, he was in the pool for the first time at the meet and nearly broke an American record.

Ray was diagnosed with achondroplasia — “the most common type of short-limbed dwarfism,” according to the Mayo Clinic — shortly after he was born. It slows down “the growth of bone in the cartilage of the growth plate,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. He said he grew normally until he was 6 and then plateaued.

After swimming on the varsity team at Bartram Trail for four years, Ray began his college career at UNF. Without a swim team at the school, he continued his training with the Bolles Sharks swim club. He nearly earned a spot on the Paralympics team but was left behind as the first alternate.

Clearly, he’s not one to let any obstacle stand in his way.

So after testing positive for COVID in Portugal, he posted on social media that he was keeping focused by doing yoga. He also visualized his swimming plan with his cap and goggles on in the bathtub in his room.

That work paid off when Ray touched the wall in the 400-meter freestyle in a time of 5:30.88, just .93 seconds shy of the American record.

Ray has two more chances in the pool. Thursday, he swims in the 4x100 meter medley relay, and on Friday, his best event, the 100-meter breaststroke.

About the Author:

Cole joined News4Jax full-time in January 2017, but he has been a part of the team since he began filling in as a sports anchor in 2005.