BY KARINA BLODNIEKS
The smell of chlorine and the cold of breaking the surface of the water are familiar to her. Looking over the edge of a diving block on a windy, overcast Thursday evening, Cooper City High School freshman Star Fassler dives in head-first. Her swimming is quick, her movements precise, and her dedication obvious. Each day, Fassler heads to the Pembroke Pines Charter High School swimming pool and practices for hours on end. The only break she takes from the water is surfacing to take a breath, and even that is just enough for her to keep going. Swimming has been a part of her life for so long that it has become second nature to her. She loves what she does, but throughout her training, Fassler battles intense pain all over her body which threatens to take control of her life.
Fassler has bursitis, scoliosis, pronation in her feet, extreme tightness all throughout her body, and multiple kinds of tendonitis. These ailments are caused, as speculated by her physical therapist, by the imbalance of her hips. Even with her physical challenges, Fassler swims on.
At the age of six, Fassler’s sister, Erika, started swimming, and Fassler decided to start swimming herself. That same year, she started to swim competitively. Sports have always been a part of her life; when Fassler was ten she became a black belt in Tae Kwon Doe. Despite her strong love for athletics, she was forced to chose between swimming and martial arts when her schedule got too tight, and swimming was her obvious first choice. As stated by her mom, Annette Fassler, the sport is a part of who she is.
At twelve, Fassler faced a new team and a new struggle. Previously one of the eight swimmers chosen to represent her age group in the Florida Gold Coast swim meet, she slowly started to face the reality that she may be stopped from pursuing what she loves. When she joined her current team, the South Florida Aquatics club, her ailments arose. Tendonitis and bursitis cause extreme pain, and, when the muscles are overused, can escalate into permanent damage. With tendonitis in both shoulders, Fassler runs the risk of permanently tearing the tendon. Fassler is cautious with her condition, but never wanted to stop swimming; she took the stance that if she stops now, going back will be twice as hard as continuing. Her passion and dedication kept her swimming, even through a rough physical patch.
“Star has always been extremely dedicated and disciplined in everything she does,” Annette Fassler said. “It didn’t matter how hard the task at hand was, she was ready to confront it; her next battle will be trying to recover from her injuries.”
Athletic and steadfast though she is, Fassler now finds it hard to walk long stretches in class changes, and often has to take the elevator. She can’t do all the swimming routines she used to, and has to take breaks and shortcuts so as not to strain her muscles. Even in pain, Fassler faces everyday life with as much ferocity as she always has. She’s not afraid to speak her mind, and she’s trying her hardest to be exactly what her parents named her: a star. She still attends swimming practice daily, and she pushes herself to do her best in everything she attempts. When she walks slowly up the stairs, trying hard not to show her pain, she still tries her best to make everyone around her happy, by encouraging everyone to live up to whatever image they want to portray. Despite being a new student to CCHS, she’s an active and successful member of the debate and swim teams.
“I love having the support of all my friends, parents, and coaches around me, and proving that even through all the pain, I can still manage to live up to my name,” Fassler said. “I know I might be quite biased, but from experience, swimming is one of the hardest sports out there. If you don’t put mind, body, and soul into this sport, you WILL break!”
With set determination and skill to match, Fassler aspires to live up to her name in everything she does. She plans to continue swimming, and eventually work her way back to the top. Fassler will be continuing physical therapy until her injuries subside, and while there’s always the risk that there may be permanent damage to her muscles, she’s set in her choice not to give up. Daily, she still gets up and looks forward to diving headfirst into the water, even though it’s physically painful for her to do so. Fassler knows that the future is up to her; while she doesn’t know exactly what she wants to be and where she wants to go, her passion for swimming and her dedication in life make her exactly what her namesake claims: a shooting star in the water, and a shining star on land.