By Phil Jensen
Logan Killion knew something was wrong, and what transpired in January of 2016 could have derailed his collegiate swimming career before it even started.
It’s been a journey to this point for Killion, now a standout sophomore swimmer at Diablo Valley College. This week at the Big 8 Conference Championships, Killion will compete in the 500 freestyle, the 200 free, the 1,650 free and four relays (200 medley, 400 medley, 400 frees, 800 free).
On Jan. 4, 2016, Killion did a flip turn and “it felt like I got the wind knocked out of me,” he said. He was training at Carson Valley Swim Center in Minden, Nevada, near Killion’s hometown of Gardnerville.
He did two more intervals to finish his training set. “I was determined to finish the set,” Killion said. After a five-minute rest, he dove back into the pool and his intuition was proven correct.
“Everything in my chest got tight and I couldn’t talk,” Killion said. His father drove him to Carson Valley Medical Center in Gardnerville, where he was treated for a dislocated rib. He went home, but the next morning, he started jumping and he could feel his right lung moving.
Killion headed to a medical center in Minden, where he was diagnosed with spontaneous pneumothorax, which is a collapsed lung. He then went to Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center in Carson City, where he had a chest tube inserted and was in the hospital for a week. He was told by a doctor that he had a blister on his right lung which had popped, creating a hole in that lung.
“It was a 30-percent collapse,” Killion said. “I was scared that I would not be able to compete again, but I was mad that it happened when it did. I was just about to start swimming in college for the first time ever.”
Killion would not be detoured. He was slowly swimming about a week after he was released from the hospital, and after another four weeks without racing, he swam in a 500-yard freestyle race.
“It was wonderful to be able to race. I was ready,” Killion said.
Killion ended up advancing to the CCCAA state championships last season, where he competed in the 500 freestyle, 1,650 free, 400 individual medley, and 800 free relay.
“He’s way ahead of where he was last year, and he had a great season last year,” DVC swimming coach Rick Millington said.
At the Pasadena Invitational on April 6-8, Killion was fifth in the 500 free (4 minutes, 53.14 seconds), third in the 200 free (1:46.06, just 1.04 seconds off his personal record set earlier this season) and third in the 1,650 free (16:49.63, a season best). His personal records in the 500 (4:43.36) and 1,650 (16:38.24) were both set in the postseason last year.
Killion said that when he was at Douglas High School in Minden, he swam distance events “because nobody else liked them.” But Killion has formed an affinity with the distance races.
“For me, it’s not boring, it’s exciting,” he said. “It’s almost like a strategy game.”
Killion said that dropping six seconds in the 500 in two races at last year’s state championships “was a huge influence to me that I could do this.
He also said that DVC assistant coach Donny Mata has helped him mentally this year. “He helps me realize that I can be confident in my abilities, and the training has paid off,” Killion said.
Killion is headed to Colorado Mesa University on an athletic scholarship, and although high altitude seems to initially bother Killion’s lung (he said “it will hurt two to three breaths, then go away”), Killion said he is “not at all worried” about a reoccurrence of what happened in January of 2016.
“If it happens, it happens. You can’t stop it from happening. There’s no warning signs. There’s no precaution I can take to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said. “My mindset is to keep training as hard as I can. I’m not going to let it stop me.”