Soldier-Athlete Breaks Record as She Prepares for Paralympic Games

by Josh Lanier

When Elizabeth Marks travels to the Paralympic Games in Japan in August, it won’t be the first time she’s represented her country.

The 30-year-old Army veteran served in Iraq where she injured both of her hips in 2010. She’d never been a swimmer before then. But she took to the water as a way to stay fit.

“I was just trying to be found fit for duty, and I couldn’t run, so I took up swimming as a second form of cardio. And there was a gentleman there who encouraged me to try out for Warrior Games,” Marks told Fox News.  

She was perfect for them. She is competitive and has a never-give-up attitude. That’s why in 2014 when she was fell into a coma and required a leg amputation because of her prior injury, she didn’t stop swimming. She competed for the United States at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. She was the first female soldier-athlete to ever compete in the Paralympic Games, Fox News said.

Marks won a gold medal and bronze medal for the women’s 100-meter breaststroke and 4X100 meter relay, respectively. She set a world record in the 100-meter breaststroke.

Marks recently broke American records again during the June 17-21 trials for the Paralympics. She swam a 1:21.56 in the 100-meter backstroke and a 37.08 in the 50-meter butterfly, Fox News said.

She doesn’t care about breaking records, she said. She’s more interested in breaking down barriers.

“I’m just trying to swim and be present in the water,” Marks said. “I don’t look up world rankings or records.” 

Marks Said She’s Excited for the Paralympic Games

The Paralympic Games were set for 2020, but they were postponed because of the pandemic. That’s given competitors more time to train and prepare for their events. This will be her first trip to Japan, Fox News said, and she’s excited to take in the culture while she’s there.

“My favorite part [of Rio] were the people who volunteered to work the event, so just getting to know the people who are kind enough to donate their time to us … I’m really looking forward to seeing that in Japan, as well.” 

And her cheering section is growing as more people hear her story.

“Thank you for your service and dedication to the Army and to yourself!” one commenter wrote. “You are a great inspiration to all of us, and I would think those that have suffered severe injuries no matter how they were received! I think it also goes to show the closeness and just how much of a family the military is! The people that have worked with her and all people that work with all disabled persons are special and it takes a special amount of compassion and love of other human beings to do what they do!”