Among his friends, Hart senior Adam Osowski is the cautious one.
“He’s like the safest one out of all of us,” says longtime friend and Hart teammate Emilio Santoyo. “He’s like the one telling us not to do this or not to do that. He’s like the older brother in a group of little brothers. He’s always watching out over us.”
Yet, in early October of last year, it was Osowski trying to hop a curb on his bike, rising over the handlebars, extending his right arm to brace his fall and breaking his radius and ulna, the two long bones that make up the forearm.
The NCAA Division 1-caliber freestyler’s career appeared to splatter with it.
“I thought it was a career-ending injury,” says Hart coach Steve Neale.
The story, however, doesn’t end there in October on a Santa Clarita Valley sidewalk. Osowski has made what some are calling a remarkable recovery, and even as he was honest about the injury in the recruiting process, he didn’t lose his scholarship along the way.
“I think it’s nothing short of miraculous,” Neale says of the recovery.
Osowski, the Foothill League’s reigning 200 and 500-yard freestyle champion, says his first thoughts as he looked at his gnarled, numb arm centered around his upcoming senior swim season and what he hoped lay beyond it.
Columbia University had shown interest, and he knew he’d have to call coach Jim Bolster and break the bad news. Maybe Bolster wouldn’t want him anymore.
There might have been another factor, too.
“He wasn’t worried about his arm,” Santoyo says. “He was worried about his parents and what they’d think about the whole situation.”
Rushed to the hospital, Osowski underwent surgery the next day, with doctors inserting screws and a plate.
Then Osowski called Bolster the day after surgery, still a little nervous.
The swimmer didn’t have to be.
“(I said), ‘I just broke my arm in a fall on a bike.’” Osowski recalls. “He said, ‘Come over still and see if you like it here, and we’ll go from there.’”
Osowski visited the New York campus on Oct. 8 and 9 and loved it.
He committed to the school later that month.
Still, he had to regain his form.
The 17-year-old had been in the best shape of his life before the injury.
Now, he couldn’t return to the pool for three weeks. Then he could only swim lightly for a few more weeks after that.
For months, he couldn’t climb out of the pool without using the ladder.
Osowski stayed resilient, though.
“His parents played a really big role in that positive mindset,” Neale says. “Especially his dad, (saying), ‘You can work through this. It’s just a challenge.’”
Santoyo, who has been in the pool with Osowski since they were 8, says, “Personally, I thought that he was going to have a really tough time coming back. But watching him, it’s really inspiring.”
Osowski, who plans to study law at Columbia, hasn’t quite hit his best times in the 100 and 200 free (the events he hopes to swim at CIF). He’s close, though.
Will he ever ride a bike, again?
“I think I will,” he says. “Just never try to jump a curb again.”