Wake up, eat, workout, swim, eat, eat again, sleep and repeat. This is the life of a competitive swimmer.
Jarom Fotheringhame, a freshman studying music, started swimming at a country club in Kearney, Missouri, when he was eight years old.
Fotheringhame said the work ethic and dedication he developed because of sports and fitness helped him through the hardest time of his life and brought him closer to his Savior, Jesus Christ.
On April 17, 2014, Fotheringhame broke his leg when the Polaris ranger he and his friends were driving flipped. The ranger bounced twice as it tumbled down the side of a hill. On the first bounce, his leg moved outside the vehicle and was crushed. After the second bounce, the ranger settled at the base of the hill.
“I climbed out the window, and I flipped over to look at the wreckage,” Fotheringhame said. “That was when I realized that my leg was not facing the right direction, and I said, ‘oh poop’.”
After calling his mother to explain what had happened, Fotheringhame was rushed to the emergency room, while he overheard his mom whispering to the nurse in the hallway. On that same day, Fotheringhame found out he had melanoma, the worst type of skin cancer.
The combination of feeling like the world was out to get him and the numbing of pain meds led to depression. By his junior year of high school, Fotheringhame had descended into the darkest parts of his mind.
However, through it all, he kept swimming.
“I was at practice one day, and this was the day I had decided I was going to quit,” Fotheringham said. “I was just so frustrated, tired and done.”
Fotheringhame was in the middle of a set of laps, halfway down the lane. His arms could barely move and his goggles started to fill with tears from exhaustion. As he approached the wall, he decided he was going to stop and take a rest instead of turning around to swim another lap.
“I just remember the Spirit inside me saying, ‘Is this how you feel about your dedication to Jesus Christ? If this was your conviction that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, would you keep going?’” Fotheringhame said. “I was like ‘whatever, this has nothing to do with my salvation. This is swimming, and it sucks, and I’m tired. I want to get out of the pool’.”
As he got closer to the wall, just a few meters away, Fotheringhame decided to keep going.
“I signed up for this, just like I chose to follow Jesus Christ,” Fotheringhame said.
That was a turning point for Fotheringhame. He decided to do what was necessary in order to overcome his depression and become a better disciple of Christ. Just like the daily routine he followed to maintain his physical fitness, he developed a routine to become spiritually fit.
Fotheringhame said it’s the little things that you do every day that start to add up. People can’t just read the whole Book of Mormon in one day and think they’ll know everything about the gospel.
On his mission, he practiced consistency in his study of the gospel, praying and serving until he was as spiritually strong as he was physically.
Wake up, pray, read scriptures, pray, pray again, sleep and repeat. This is the life of a disciple of Christ.