When life presents you with challenges, it’s up to you to find a way to adapt and overcome. That’s exactly what Patrick Sweeney did after his 2013 brain surgery. Sweeney, a former soccer player and recreational runner, found himself unable to participate in those activities due to his left-sided hemiparesis, but he didn’t let that stop him. Instead, he pivoted to adaptive cycling and has since competed in 55 triathlon relays and endurance sports. Patrick Sweeney is an adaptive cyclist breaking barriers in endurance sports. He is showing the way and leading by example.
I Love Triathlon
Sweeney’s love for triathlon is evident in his passion for the sport. He describes it as addicting and loves the camaraderie he finds within the community. Patrick competes as a relay team member and finds his teammates through his tri club and through athletes who sign up with his own team, Team Sweeney.
The transition to adaptive cycling was made possible by a recreational therapist who introduced Sweeney to non-profits such as IM ABLE Foundation and the Pennsylvania Center for Adaptive Sports. Sweeney also encountered challenges in getting race directors to accept his participation. But once they saw the adaptations he had made in order to compete, things ran smoothly.
More Than Just Physical Freedom
For Sweeney, cycling is more than just physical freedom. It has given him mental freedom as well. He feels that it has given him the confidence to pursue his dreams and forget about his “limitations”.
Patrick hopes to bring awareness to adaptive cycling and make it more inclusive within the endurance community. He wants to show that anything is possible, even with a disability. During one race, Sweeney was able to help an athlete who was struggling, saying “let’s race, I’ll get you to the finish line” and he did just that.
Race organizers help Patrick with his recumbent bike by placing the transition spot right near the arches for the bike out and bike in. This makes it easy for him to navigate without having to worry about narrow bike rack areas.
Racing Is Fun
One of the most memorable rides for Sweeney was his first, Got the Nerve, an all-adaptive triathlon where he placed first despite tough competition. Patrick competes in about 8 to 10 events per year. His current goal is to compete in a 100-mile race, which he is signed up for in the upcoming season. While Sweeney used to travel to races, the equipment can be difficult to travel with and expensive, so he mostly stays near his hometown now. But that doesn’t stop him from pursuing his next goal, a 100-mile ride at the MS ride in September, which he describes as being a bit more laid back and allowing him to refuel and rehydrate at aid stations without worrying too much about cut-off times.
Adaptive Cyclist Breaking Barriers in Endurance Sports
Patrick Sweeney’s story is one of overcoming challenges and never giving up on your dreams. His passion for adaptive cycling and triathlon is contagious. Listening to his message of inclusion and acceptance is one that resonates with all athletes, adaptive or not. By breaking down barriers and proving that anything is possible, Sweeney is an inspiration to us all.
For those interested in getting involved in adaptive cycling, there are resources available. You can go through non-profits such as the IM ABLE Foundation and the Pennsylvania Center for Adaptive Sports for help. It’s never too late to adapt and overcome, and Patrick Sweeney’s story is proof of that.
Editors Note: Patrick’s story is inspiring and motiving. So is yours. Your story matters and we want to share it with the world. Visit our How It All Started Link, fill out our form and let’s chat about getting your story out and help inspire others to join the endurance sports community.