In the swimming pool, Colin Candebat is a double state champion for the Destrehan Wildcats. Next school year, he’ll be a swimmer at the collegiate level after signing with Henderson State University in December.   

He’s also a shining example of perseverance and overcoming incredible adversity.   

Candebat was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 12. Two years prior to that, he began experiencing concerning symptoms which his mother, Rebecca, brought up to his doctor during his annual checkup visit. A deeper examination led to a diagnosis of juvenile absence epilepsy.

Suddenly, his day-to-day life changed. Twice, Candebat had convulsive seizures – once while at a swim meet, another while playing a video game. Memory loss was also an issue early in his life, as the condition triggered those instances.   

“When he was first diagnosed, he couldn’t remember anything,” said Candebat’s mother, Rebecca. “So, middle school was hard. But he turned a corner.” 

Medication alone wouldn’t be enough to manage his condition. He dedicated himself to learning the way. 

“It came down to having interior drive,” said Candebat. “I had to monitor what I was eating, make sure I’m not eating too much sugar per week, my breathing habits had to change. I had to focus on recovery, making sure not too much lactic acid was building up after practice.” 

He had to stick to a very regimented schedule, taking the necessary medication twice a day.   

There was no guarantee he’d be able to continue swimming – a lifelong love of his that he began at the age of six.   

“I wasn’t sure I’d be able to swim again,” Candebat said. “In my sixth-grade year, after I was first diagnosed, they told me I’d have to be very careful. I was just starting middle school … it was tough.” 

Rebecca said her son became very proactive in dealing with the situation and formed habits he keeps to this day. 

“A lot of teens stay up late, but he gets his rest and his recovery,” Rebecca said. “He has more dedication than most adults, honestly.” 

Rebecca also credited his doctor at Children’s Hospital, Dr. Daniella Miller, for not just her work with him but her support as well. 

“She wouldn’t tell him ‘no’ to what he wanted to do – it was, ‘OK, let’s find a way,’” said Rebecca. “If you can find one person who truly believes in you and wants to help you, it makes your journey so much better.” 

Candebat wouldn’t be denied. He found his way back to the swimming pool – and to incredible success.   

As a high school junior, he started to take his focus on swimming up a notch, if not several.   

“My coach told me I could potentially be great – he said I could probably make Olympic trials if I took this seriously,” Candebat said. “So, of course, my reaction is, ‘Wow,’ and I started to really focus on what I was doing both in and out of the pool, what my habits are.” 

In November, Candebat earned state crowns in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley events, recording times of 58.12 and 1:52.98 respectively. 

Candebat said that when he received the offer from Henderson State – his first major offer of the recruiting process – it was like a weight was removed from his chest. This has been a dream of his – a dream now realized as he heads to Henderson State.   

He said he felt confident that if he executed as he had while training, he could find success at the state championship meet. Still, the reality of it was thrilling, he said. It was especially fun as he knew so many of his competitors.   

“You swim year-round, and a lot of these guys are my teammates (outside of high school swimming),” Candebat said. “So that made it a lot of fun.” 

The result cemented him as a champion. 

Rebecca said she finds inspiration in her son each day, not only based on what he has overcome in his life, but also the relentless dedication he shows to improve himself.   

“He left here at 3:30 a.m. to get to swim practice in Baton Rouge,” said Rebecca. “The old saying, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Colin has talent, and Colin works very, very hard.” 

 

Source: heraldguide.com, Ryan Arena

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