In Search of Still Water

Tahoma High senior Michael Cox has already qualified for state despite injuries suffered in a car wreck.

It’s not unusual for Michael Cox, a senior at Tahoma High and a competitive swimmer, to start his days with an early morning swim practice.

Late last summer he had a morning like so many others, that one, however, ended differently. Cox remembers getting in the car, but after that his memory goes blank.

Cox fell asleep at the wheel that morning, his car crossed the center line and collided with another vehicle before going off the road.

“When I regained consciousness there was a lady outside my window,” Cox said. “It didn’t register. I’m thinking: What just happened? It was very scary.”

Cox’s first concern after he realized he’d fallen asleep was whether or not he had hit anyone else — he had — and if the other driver was OK. That answer was also yes.

Cox’s coach was also at the accident scene. He was driving in front of Cox.

“My coach saw everything happen in his rearview mirror,” Cox said.

The collision with the other vehicle had been “headlight to headlight” and Cox was told that if he had drifted only a few more inches the accident could have been catastrophic.

Cox fractured his pelvis in four places, injured his uppermost rib and had a glass shard in his eyebrow.

He is thankful for everything that did go right that morning, and in the days and weeks that followed.

“Everything that could have gone right did,” Cox said.

For one, Cox had been driving his mother’s car that morning.

“Mine is older and less safe,” Cox said. “Her (car) is much safer.”

Cox was also thankful the other driver wasn’t seriously injured, that it hadn’t been a head-on collision and that the glass had landed in his eyebrow instead of his eye. Cox also didn’t need surgery.

That morning was more than three months ago and Cox is back in the pool, amazing his doctors and coaches.

Cox was told he couldn’t put any weight on his left leg for six weeks in order to allow his pelvis to heal. At his four-week check up he found out he was healing faster than expected and was given the green light to get back in the pool.

“I felt good,” Cox said. “I felt fine. I just kept pushing myself.”

At six weeks Cox started physical therapy.

“I kept testing it (his leg) when my mom wasn’t looking,” Cox said. “I was supposed to be on crutches for three months. The doctors were bewildered it had been healing so fast.”

Cox had been healing so fast that shortly after he started physical therapy he was able to cease using crutches and start training again in earnest.

“I’ve just been working day by day,” Cox said. “I feel myself getting stronger.”

Not only has Cox been back in the pool, but he has qualified for the boys state meet in the 100 yard freestyle, and he has his sights set on more. He is planning on swimming the 100 butterfly at state and is going to decide between the 100 and 200 free. Cox also wants to break the Tahoma school record for the 200 free.

“I believe I can get it,” Cox said.

The future is bright for Cox — in the fall he signed his letter of intent to swim for Seattle University next year.

“I am thankful for all the people who supported me,” Cox said. “I just feel blessed, I had a second chance to do what I love.”

Reach Katherine Smith or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.