Utah Tech University swim record-breaker Ally Boynton has beaten the odds of health complications all while having a positive outlook.
Ally Boynton, a sophomore exercise science major from Woods Cross, has had a love of swimming since she was 11 years old.
“I started the year the Olympics [were happening],” Boynton said. “I was watching swimming, and I was like, ‘Why wouldn’t I do that? That looks so fun!’”
When her swimming journey started at 11 years old, she joined a summer league. Then at 12 years old, she started competitively swimming.
“I’ve just hit the ground running,” Boynton said. “I’ve been swimming ever since.”
Boynton said her favorite thing about swimming is racing. Her swimming career has always been focused on racing every day and focusing on speed.
“I grew that love of the rush of feeling the race or having a specific time that you’re trying to hit,” Boynton said. “So when I couldn’t swim or when I wasn’t able, I missed the racing part.”
Boynton faced harsh health complications her senior year of high school right before competing on Utah Tech’s swim team the following fall.
During Boynton’s last competition in early April, she said there were no signs that something was wrong. However, on her way home from that last competition, she noticed her arm start to hurt.
At first, she thought she was just sore from the competition, but after a few days and swim practices passed by, her arm began to swell and turn purple. Boynton went to a sports medicine doctor where she was immediately diagnosed with a blood clot in her arm.
“You know how you wear your ring on your ring finger on your left hand because your vein runs to your heart?” Boynton explained. “It’s that vein.”
She was rushed to the hospital where she found out she had a syndrome called Paget-Schroetter.
Paget-Schroetter is a medical condition where blood clots form in the veins of arms that experience strenuous or repeated activity, such as in athletes. If left untreated, it causes life-threatening complications.
“A rib is there, a vein is there and then a muscle is there,” Boynton said. “That combination caused the vein to clot. How you fix that is you remove the first rib, so I got my first rib taken out.”
While in the hospital, Boynton reacted to one of the medicines she was given. Boynton said because of this reaction she threw up and broke the scars that were inside her from surgery. She started internally bleeding into the cavity of her chest.
“All my organs moved from my left side to my right side and my left lung collapsed,” Boynton said. “I had to go in for three more surgeries to get the blood taken out and [the doctors] to inflate my lung again.”
Boynton was in the hospital for 12 days and for six of those she was NPO, meaning nothing by mouth. She was unable to physically eat or drink. Because this was during COVID-19, Boynton’s parents were the only people allowed to see her.
She said she lost around two liters of blood, so she had to get two blood transfusions during her time at the hospital. She couldn’t swim or move her arm until late June, which was nearly three months after being in the hospital.
“I think that’s what got me out of the hospital as soon as it did and what healed me as fast as it did was that I had a good attitude, and I wanted to keep swimming,” Boynton said. “I just never doubted myself, and I had good support from my family and my teammates and my old coaches. They all pushed me and kept me moving in the direction where I would keep swimming.”
When Boynton came to Utah Tech that same fall, she got back into full-time training for swim.
“In October of that same year, I had my first swim meet since the injury,” Boynton said. “It was exactly what I had been missing. [I] touched the wall and cried. I was like, ‘I’m back.’”
After that first swim meet, Boynton broke one of her ribs. She had to go through a three-week recovery process.
“As hard as it was before and as much as I didn’t think I was good, I was right back where I was supposed to be,” Boynton said. “It’s a long time coming, and it’s a cool comeback that I was in such a low spot where I couldn’t swim, couldn’t get out of bed.”
Boynton said she had to learn a new stroke from not using her arm for a long period of time. She had to learn how to adjust back into swimming and regain strength in her arm.
“It doesn’t hurt as bad anymore, but it feels different,” Boynton said. “I think it was hard in the beginning. Getting that confidence back was hard, but it was worth it once I started racing.”
Boynton has since broken multiple school records during last year for the 200 back, 100 back and the 50 back.
This year during the Western Athletic Conference swim championship, Boynton ranked No. 2 in the 100 and 200 backstrokes. She participated in the 200 medley relay where the team took second, first in the 400 medley relay and third in the 400 freestyle relay.
Skyler Lyon, a junior exercise science major from Riverton, said Boynton has been through a lot and is one of the best teammates she’s ever had.
“She’s always a person that you can count on to be optimistic and makes every situation fun, which is a pretty difficult task to do at practices sometimes,” Lyon said. “But her upbeat personality is contagious and inspiring.”
Eleonore Rembert, a junior exercise science major from Montpellier, France, said Boynton is a great person to be with during meets.
“She is a source of motivation, always supportive and always here for us,” Rembert said. “Personally, what sticks out the most about her is she is always motivated and really strong in many ways.”
Currently, Boynton said she is working on making the Olympic trials cut in June of 2024.
Boynton said, “When I was little, I told myself ‘trials is so cool’… Just to go to the meet is my major goal right now.”
She said in the future she wants to be a swim coach because she loves swimming and loves racing.
“I have been a swim coach for the past two years so just being a part of someone else’s swimming life and pushing other people to get their goals. I love that,” Boynton said. “So that’s where my future ends up.”