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Wisconsin teen wins swimming title almost 2 years after surviving shark attack

Lucy Art won the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association State swimming 50 free title.
Top view of swimming pool
Posted at 8:31 AM, Dec 28, 2022

BROWN DEER, Wis. — In swimming, it takes plenty of laps and monotonous work.

All for the possibility of a massive roar as Lucy Art won the WIAA State Swimming 50 Free Title. Art swims for University School/Brown Deer.

"At first, I like looked up at the board, and I couldn't really tell," Art said. "So it took me a few minutes to process, and then I was so happy."

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Wisconsin swimmer Lucy Art survived a shark attack.

But how she got there is a miracle.

"It was amazing," Art said. "I just, I felt complete."

Because 20 months earlier, Art was attacked by a black tip shark in five feet of water while on spring break in Florida. The shark bit her wrist and legs.

"I was swimming with my cousins," Art said. "I was playing in the waves. I felt something hit my legs, and I thought it was my cousin."

Wisconsin swimmer Lucy Art survived a shark attack.

"Then it jumped out of the water," Art says. "And I realized it was a shark, and it liked grabbed my hand. So my right hand was in its mouth.

Art said she thought she was going to pass out walking to the ambulance.

Once she got to the ambulance, she said she was scared that she'd lost her hand because the shark had taken a piece of her tendon.

Art said the danger of being bit was real because there's a high rate of infection in shark bites.

"I actually have some shark teeth in my legs," Art said.

Her recovery was long and left her in doubt.

"I really just didn't think that my hand was ever going to work the same again," Art said. "And like during rehab, that's when I was like contemplating my swim career and if I would ever swim again. I didn't see myself getting better."

But gradually, progress was made. And her family and friends' support, plus her junior year, led everyone to believe.

"I didn't really think of swimming in college," Art says. "I think the whole shark attack actually gave me [the] motivation to want to swim in college."

But out of something bad, hope arises and success is earned.

"Motivation really to do better and that I can be better," Art said. "I've only been in the ocean once since then, and I actually went to the same beach. That was hard."

Art's drive continues currently in her club season. And since they do say scars tell a story, her inspirational tale will continue when she enters college next year.

Lance Allan at TMJ4 first reported this story.