Swimmer with local ties set to compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo

by Lisa Schauer

“The Cacapon River was his coach,” said Teresa Shattuck of Great Cacapon, talking about her son Zachary Shattuck, 25, a first-time Paralympian swimming for Team USA in Tokyo this week.

Zach is swimming for Team USA in six events in the Tokyo Aquatics Center at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The Paralympic Games are a periodic series of international multi-sport events involving athletes with a range of disabilities. At 4’6”, Shattuck was born with dwarfism, a rare genetic disorder.

“It is the most inspiring athletic event you will ever see,” Teresa said of the Paralympics.

Watching Zach compete at the team trials in June, where he qualified for the U.S. Paralympics, she looked out on the fittest athletes she’d ever seen, removing their prosthetic arms and legs, and placing them in a basket before diving into the pool, where prosthetics are not allowed during competition.

His first event, the men’s 200-meter Individual Medley starts tonight at 8 p.m. Viewers can see the games on the NBC Sports app and on NBC stations. The competitions draw to a close on September 3.

“We’re not cheering for gold,” said his mother, Teresa. “We’re looking for finals. We know the competitors are very, very good.”

The family had planned to attend a watch party at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, but decided to celebrate at home due to COVID.

Shattuck’s parents are Rich and Teresa Shattuck of Great Cacapon. Their son played varsity sports at South Carroll High School in Mt. Airy, Md. and started swimming competitively at age 19 in 2015. He is a 2018 graduate of Frostburg State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation. Out of the pool, he enjoys kayaking, skiing and hiking.

Shattuck spent his summers growing up on the Cacapon and Potomac rivers near his family’s cabin, where his parents now live full time. There, he swam and fished, searched for crayfish, and swung from the riverbank on a rope into the water below.

US Paralympian Zachary Shattuck at age 10 playing in the Cacapon River with friends in 2006. Photo is courtesy of Teresa Shattuck of Great Cacapon.

Zachary Shattuck set an American record in the 100-meter breaststroke at the U.S.

Paralympic Team Trials in Minneapolis in June and qualified for his first Paralympic games in Tokyo. He also set a men’s Paralympic record at the team trials in the 50-meter butterfly, widely considered the most difficult swimming stroke to master.