The last time she was at a Grand Prix swim meet, Dagny Knutson jumped on a plane early and went home without finishing the competition.
That was in January. Now, the 20-year-old world champion swimmer is back on track ready to get back into top form. She's made her first swimming appearance in nearly a year at the Minnesota Grand Prix.
Knutson stepped away from swimming earlier this year when she realized that she had to deal with an eating disorder. After two rounds of treatment and more than six months without any exercise at all, Knutson returned to the pool and began training for upcoming seasons.
And, she's talking out about the disorder that kept her out of the pool for so long.
"I was in treatment twice starting in January and it took me a really long time to figure out what was wrong -- why I was doing what I was doing to myself -- and it kind of just hit me that swimming enabled the problem but it wasn't the problem," Knutson told Katrina Radke of SwimSwam.com. "And so I realized that my happiness could not be based on a sport. It could not be based on happiness with a parent or a friend. Life is what you make it so I'm just doing my best to create my own happiness in every situation."
As a high school senior, Knutson was perhaps the most highly-recruited female swimmer in the country. After committing to Auburn - and then decommitting after a coaching change - Knutson decided to turn professional. She moved to California and began training with FAST.
Training in California didn't quite work out for the teenager, though, and as her swimming career spiraled out of control, she failed to qualify for the 2010 Pan Pacs. She eventually moved to Florida to train with Gregg Troy and was a member of the 2011 world-title-winning 4x200-freestyle relay before she walked away from swimming earlier this year.
Now, she's back in the water, and she's working toward the long-term goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games. First, though, Knutson knows she simply needs to get a feel for the water again.
That's what she was doing at the University Aquatic Center on the University of Minnesota campus this weekend. On Friday, Knutson finished second in the 200-yard freestyle behind Missy Franklin (who broke the 17-18 national age group record previously held by Knutson), and she finished second in the 200-yard butterfly behind Becca Mann.
Knutson's times weren't close to her best ever, but that's OK with her as she gets back into shape and enjoys her time in the pool.
"I took six to seven months off with absolutely no exercise, so I think I'm doing fabulous right now considering, and I'm just excited to see what I can do next summer," Knutson told Radke. "I think I have a lot of potential and just see what I can do after everything I've been through. And if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."
Knutson, a North Dakota native, is now back in her home state training with her high school coach.
Read more from this author: Dagny Knutson Plans to Return to Swimming After Eating Disorder Treatment
Sandra Johnson was a competitive swimmer for more than 15 years before she began coaching. She is a longtime Olympic fan, and while working for the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colo., she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46
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