Davenport returns to state meet after major knee surgery

EHS's Bella Davenport came back from knee surgery to race at the 3A state swim and dive championships Friday.
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Enumclaw High sophomore Bella Davenport sat nervously waiting for the start of the 100-yard breaststroke Friday night at the Class 3A swim and dive championships.

“Honestly, I’m just happy to be here,” she said. “Being back at state is a really big accomplishment.”

Nine months ago, in a non-sports related freak accident, Davenport broke her knee cap and tore a ligament requiring reconstructive surgery.

With surgery and recovery, Davenport was out of the water for more than four months.

Davenport, who also made the trip to state last season, said she wasn’t sure if her knee would hold up during the season, let alone get her back to state.

She posted her personal-best time of 1 minute, 13.86 seconds at the district meet and placed third, earning her a spot in Friday and Saturday’s state championships at the King County Aquatic Center.

“She did really well at districts and then state,” coach Ann Bettencourt said. “I’m proud of her. She worked hard. She’ll be back next year.”

Her knee held up during preliminaries, but not her luck. She raced to a 1:14.24 finish, but was disqualified on a stroke technicality.

Davenport said she was confused and disappointed by the call, but still felt good about the accomplishment.

“I feel like I’ve had a really good recovery,” she said. “I think swimming was a big part of my physical therapy.”

Just the nature of the breaststroke adds more strain on the knee.

“It is the most difficult stroke for me to do,” Davenport said. “It was a lot of work, but worth it.”

The support she received from Bettencourt, assistant Celeste Bettencourt and, in the off season, her club coach Keith VanHoof helped.

She’s already planning her return next year. She’s starting to work on her endurance and building her strength.

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