Sibol returns to Bear Creek after near-fatal accident
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 12:08

Swimmer was hit by boat on June 3

by Nicole Rodman

    Though it was just three months ago that Whitney Sibol’s left side was torn apart by a powerboat, you wouldn’t know it to look at her today.
    Last Friday, Whitney showed off her amazing progress with a visit to Bear Creek Elementary School.
    While there, she spoke with the school’s fifth-grade girls about setting (and keeping) fitness goals.
    The daughter of longtime Bear Creek Elementary School Pre-Kindergarten teacher Judy Sibol, Whitney was swimming in Middle River’s Bird River on June 3 when the unthinkable happened.

    Preparing for the then-upcoming Iron Girl Triathlon (held on Aug. 19), Whitney was doing laps in the river as her family looked on when a powerboat slammed into her left side.
    Despite the presence of bouys, and Whitney’s family nearby, the boat still managed to hit Whitney, tearing apart her arm and crushing her pelvis and ribs.
    Several arteries were also pinched, nearly leading to the loss of her left arm.
    Police later told the Sibols that the operator of the boat had been drinking but was not above the legal limit for blood-alcohol level.
    Following the accident, Whitney was rushed to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she underwent 10 hours of emergency surgery.
    Since then, Sibol has had several more surgeries to repair extensive injuries from the accident.
    Though she lay in a coma for four days after the accident, as soon as Whitney awoke she was ready to work on her recovery.
    Since she awoke, Whitney has been hard at work getting back into her pre-accident shape.
    She just finished physical therapy, though she still attends occupational therapy three times a week.
    The occupational therapy will be longterm, helping Whitney regain a greater range of motion in her left hand, fingers and elbow.
     Reflecting on her recovery during an interview at Bear Creek Elementary last Friday, Whitney noted that she is feeling good.
    “It’s been good,” she said of her recovery, adding, “I’ve been lucky; I feel good.”
    Just two days prior to her accident, on June 1, Whitney visited the fifth-grade girls of Bear Creek Elementary to offer them some advice and assistance on setting and keeping their own fitness goals.
    During that presentation, Whitney and her mother, Ms. Sibol, discussed Whitney’s goals in preparing for the Iron Girl Triathlon.
    Though she did not end up competing in this year’s triathlon, Whitney returned on Aug. 31, to Bear Creek Elementary to check up on the students and, in turn, let them check up on her.
    “My mom saw that the girls were worried [after the accident] and didn’t know what to expect,” Whitney explained of her desire to come back and visit the girls again.
    During her presentation last Friday, Whitney talked a bit about her accident, telling students that, despite her setback, she is still determined to run the Iron Girl Triathlon next year.
    Whitney then asked the girls if they had set and kept any fitness goals this summer.
    In the midst of many eager voices, one girl explained that she had challenged herself to swim 50 yards in the pool, a task she eventually completed.
    Looking on with pride, Ms. Sibol was filled with a mix of joy and apprehension as she watched her daughter interact with the students.
    “I’m kind of nervous to let her go but she’s getting back into the routine,” Sibol explained.
    Though she still has a long way to go in her recovery, Whitney is slowly returning to her normal life.
    She noted that she is back to work already; she returned to full-time hours this week.
    Whitney is also hoping to begin training again soon.
    Though she exercises on the treadmill, stationary bike and elliptical, she will soon be able to add running to the mix.
    According to Ms. Sibol, doctors have cleared Whitney to resume running at the end of September.
    Whitney will soon begin training in hopes of competing in the Iron Girl Triathlon event next August.
    Though it’s a lofty goal, with her determination and grit, Whitney and her mother know that she will succeed.
    For more information on Whitney Sibol, visit