Sports Spotlight on Dagny Knutson | VideoScott Westerberg | 11/14/2012
A little over a year ago, Knutson was one of swimming`s rising stars. She won gold in the 4 X 200 free relay at the World Championships in China and was a shoe-in to make the Olympic team. Then, something happened.
"I told myself that I wasn`t going to swim ever again, that I would just retire at the age of 20," she said.
This past January, Knutson pulled out of a meet in Texas and later announced she would skip the Olympic Trials. A few months later, the reason became public. Knutson had been dealing with an eating disorder and decided she needed help.
"For a really long time I was not swimming for myself and swimming for all sorts of different reasons and now I feel like I`m completely doing it because I want to and just to see how good I can get. It`s really liberating and it makes the sport so much more enjoyable."
During her recovery, Knutson had doubts as to whether she would ever compete again but then came the realization that allowed her to get back in the pool.
"After putting everything into perspective I realized I don`t really need the sport of swimming like I thought I used to. Now I just do it because I`m good at it and I want to be better at it and just to have fun."
This summer Knutson returned to North Dakota and reunited with her high school coach. She`s living with her family in Washburn and swimming at the Bismarck State Aquatic Center.
"I`m not doing as many swim practices a week as I did in Florida, but I`m doing a lot more quality, and I think that`s what made me successful growing up," she said.
Knutson says she was concerned about making her struggles public, but in the end it was the right decision.
"At first I was really nervous about coming out with so many things that were so personal, but after I did it I was really glad cause I`ve had so much positive feedback. I`ve had people email me saying, `I`m going to get help because of you.` And that makes me feel so good."
Even though her outlook on swimming has changed her goals haven`t. Knutson is starting small, but still has her sights set on Rio in 2016.
"If it doesn`t happen, it doesn`t happen. I don`t need swimming to make me happy anymore, but it`s always been a lifelong dream of mine to go to the Olympics, so I`ll still keep it in the back of my mind," she said.
And this time around she`s doing it for all the right reasons.
At the U.S. Grand Prix in Minneapolis this past weekend, Knutson won the 200-individual medley. She also had two second place finishes, plus a fifth and a sixth.
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