Originally Posted Online: Dec. 03, 2012, 5:37 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 03, 2012, 11:33 pm
Bishop winning the bigger battle: RIís Bishop focuses on achieving goals, not perfect body
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By Chris Steele, firstname.lastname@example.org
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert|
Rock Island senior swimmer Kelly Bishop missed five weeks this season after being treated for anorexia and bulimia. Bishop then finished her career by qualifying for the state meet.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck|
Rock Island senior swimmer Kelly Bishop competes in last month's Rock Island Sectional. Bishop missed five weeks this season while being treated for anorexia and bulimia.
Kelly Bishop was a girl who seemingly had the world at her fingertips. However, beneath that outward appearance, she had lost total control.
Bishop's drive and determination had formed her into an outstanding swimmer and a brilliant student named to the 2011 USA Swimming Scholastic All America Team.
The focus on being a perfectionist, though, had transformed into a destructive trait when the swimmer began to apply that same intensity toward her body.
Over the past three years, Bishop battled with anorexia and bulimia.
Things came to a breaking point when the already petite Bishoplost close to 26 pounds in two months during the middle of her senior season.
"If I lost one more pound, I was told that I was going to be kicked off the team for good," Bishop said of an ultimatum not to let her weight fall below 100 pounds. "That was something that I was terrified of, but I was equally terrified of gaining weight. It put me in a tough spot."
It took the intervention of parents and coaches because Bishop was beyond the point of reason, even though, she admits, the path she was on had her scared.
"It's almost self-punishment," Bishop said. "It's a quest for perfection. The most pressure I've ever felt is from myself. No matter how far you get, you'll never be good enough. For me, it was not performing in the pool and not doing what you know you should be doing. A part of you feels empty because you love it, and you are not fulfilling that. Another part of you will still be empty because you're not a 5-foot-10 model that you always wanted to be. No matter what, you are always losing."
Still, she was resistant to admit anything was wrong.
After being a two-time state swimming qualifier, Bishop was struggling early this season. Yet, even when things were at their worst, Bishop was strident about admitting anything was wrong.
At a duel meet against Moline, Bishop showed a flash of the swimmer people had come to expect, posting a then-season-best time of 1:01.95 in the 100-yard butterfly.
"I wasn't just swimming," Bishop said. "I was swimming to try to prove that I was OK and I didn't need help. That was a very passionate evening for me. I cried all night. In my mind, it was the last time I would ever swim my senior season. However, I came to the realization later that no matter how fast I swam, there were bigger problems that needed to be addressed."
The road to recovery included three weeks in the hospital, and another two weeks in outpatient treatment in Arizona.
"I had kissed swimming goodbye," Bishop said. "I had lost sight of what was important to me. I never thought I would do the things that would make me happy ever again."
Bishop underwent a painstaking road to recovery and feels that she's come through the other side stronger than ever. After winning the 100-yard butterfly with a season-best time of 59.62 at the sectional, she earned a spot at the state meet. Bishop then proved to be headed in the right direction again.
While her pursuit of finding balance in her life never will be over, she just hopes that her story can help others in similar situations.
"I don't want to be a 40-year-old with Osteoporosis," Bishop said. "I don't want to live my life based on some silly image of myself. I don't want to let my body define me. I want to use my body to do the things that I love, and to go chase my dreams. I don't want to be blinded by an unrealistic image that is just going to lead to disaster."