Athlete of the Week: C.J. Layne

Athlete of the Week: C.J. Layne
(Source: WTOL)

BOWLING GREEN, OH (WTOL) - C.J. Layne is a sophomore at Bowling Green High School and he was born to be in the water.

His parents have been swim coaches for what feels like forever and at just 19-days-old, C.J. was in a pool. Before he could walk, he could swim under water. It just came easy to him.

But two and a half years ago, C.J. learned just how unpredictable life can be.

He was playing in a soccer tournament and during the final minute of the final game, he was hit by a ball off the foot of a teammate and it changed his life forever.

"It was like impeccable timing," said Layne. "He just nailed me in the back-center of my head."

"He was immediately knocked out, you could tell when he hit the ground," according to his dad Gary.

Layne was taken to the hospital and was told he'd be staying overnight. His condition quickly changed.

"They were the worst eight days of my life," said C.J.'s mom, Carolyn.

"He had gone from thirteen to five in a matter of 12 hours," said Gary.

C.J. had no memory of what had happened. With the help of therapists, he had to re-learn how to walk and tie his shoes.

"He was just looking around his room and the first thing he said was 'Where am I? How did I get here? Why am I here?,'" according to his mom.

Doctors didn't have many answers for what had happened. The road to recovery was just beginning.

"It was really frustrating," said  C.J. "It's like when you're taking a test and it's one of those answers that you've been studying and you knew it when you were reviewing every time, but when you got to the test part, it's just not there. You're searching through the depths of your brain to find it, but you can't come up with anything."

After months of hard work, C.J. returned to the pool and didn't miss a beat.

"He did a couple of widths of swimming," his dad remembers. "He stood up and he was trying to figure out how he knew how to do that, because he didn't remember it, but he was doing it almost flawlessly."

The hard work didn't stop there. He's been in the pool ever since and all of the training paid off in late February when he went to the State Championship in Canton.

C.J. shocked everyone by winning the 100-meter breast stroke.

In just two and a half years, he went from having to relearn how to walk, to being able to call himself a state champ.

"It was just pure bliss that I won," said C.J. "I'm a state champion now."

"It was a moment of disbelief because we weren't sure he'd ever swim again," said his mom with tears in her eyes. "It was just a testament to his determination and his hard work. It was pretty special."

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