Originally created 09/21/04

Medal dream comes true for local swimmer



Lantz Lamback feels pain every day. Cerebral palsy causes his back to ache and his legs to throb.

But for one small moment in time, Lantz didn't hurt.

The 18-year-old Augustan ripped through the water in a time of 1:05.02 to win a bronze medal in the 100 freestyle Monday at the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.

"I went out there and did what I had to do and got a medal out of it," Lantz said by phone from Athens. "It feels great. This has really been a learning experience."

Lantz went into his first Para-lympics wanting to at least qualify for the finals. Now he has a chance to bring home at least three more medals. He swims in the 100 backstroke Wednesday, the 400 freestyle Thursday and the 50 freestyle Sunday, and he might participate in a pair of relays.

"I'm totally psyched now," he said. "(Winning a medal) is a real big confidence boost right there."

David Roberts, of Great Britain, won the 100 freestyle with a world-record time of 1:01.65. Lantz finished just outside of second. Great Britain's Matthew Walker (1:04.22) edged him out.

"I'm just so happy," said Donna Lamback, Lantz's mother. "I'm proud of him. I asked him who beat him. He said, 'the world-record holder.'"

Lantz, who swims with little use of his legs, is competing in the S7 division. An S1 swimmer has the most physical limitations, while an S10 swimmer is more able-bodied.

Winning a medal is a personal triumph for Lantz. Defeating his nemesis, Australian Alex Harris, was the icing on the cake. Harris finished fourth.

"I finally beat a guy I've been chasing for two years," Lantz said.

Lantz now is gunning for the top prize. He and his brother, Fred, have a deal. If Lantz brings a gold medal home, Fred will give him his Pontiac Firebird.

"That's something that's between the two of them," Mrs. Lamback said. "He's trying to get a gold."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645, or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.