The day she was born in Canada, Lily Bishop was taken into emergency treatment for a hole in her heart and with a rare defect called Ebstein’s anomaly, which causes the tricuspid valve to not work properly.
It was the beginning of a life in which she underwent open-heart surgeries when she was 6 and 10, but she never worried about what might happen next.
A junior at Valley Vista High School(Surprise, Ariz.), Bishop picked up club swimming as a freshman and is now getting ready for this weekend’s Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division I state swimming and diving championships at Mesa’s Skyline Aquatic Center.
‘She never let it stop her’
“She has been a fighter since Day One,” said Heidi Bishop, Lily’s mom. “She never ever let it stop her. She never said, ‘I can’t do this.’ She never felt sorry for herself ever.”
Bishop, who recently turned 16, has qualified in all three relays and in the 100-yard breaststroke at state. She made it with a qualifying time of 1 minute, 11.46 seconds.
“I guess wanting to prove to myself that I can do it, that I can get past all of the hills, that I can do as well as anybody else, even though I’ve had surgeries,” Bishop said about the motivation to swim.
She made relays at state her freshman and sophomore years, but this is her first year qualifying for state in an individual event.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Valley Vista coach Christie Kearley said. “She swims all the steps we swim. We don’t put her in the 500 (yard) freestyle, because it might be too much. She still pushes herself past her comfort zone. She has done the 200 a couple of times.”
Scared before the surgeries
Bishop said she remembers being scared before the surgeries in the second and fifth grades.
“I think the first was more difficult, because I didn’t really know what was going to happen,” she said.