LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, New Jersey -- As a 15-year-old, Sean Binning enjoyed diving for sport and hanging out with friends. But his life changed on March 5, 2019.
"It was like a normal day," he said. "I got, like, the worst headache."
What Binning thought was a migraine turned into much worse when he collapsed. A trip to the hospital revealed that he had a ruptured brain AVM, or arteriovenous malformation. He was born with it but never knew. He was immediately sent in for emergency surgery.
"I don't remember anything until I went to the ambulance and then I woke up 18 days later," said Binning.
Three years and three brain surgeries later, Binning is back in action. But he had to rediscover the most basic parts of life before returning to the board.
"I had to learn how to walk, talk, speak because of my trach," he said. "Over time, I started getting better and better."
Binning, now an 18-year-old, left his hometown of Annandale, Virginia, to join the Rider University Men's Swimming and Diving Team. In February, he helped the team become Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions for the 10th time in a row.
The freshman walked away with two awards. Not only was he the rookie diver of the meet, but he was also named diver of the meet overall.
"It's all because of my coach, my parents, my teammates just pushed me through it," said Binning. "I didn't think I would get this far. I just enjoy the sport. So I'm going to see how far I can go."
Binning may not have his sights set on a professional career in diving after college, but he does what to dive head-first into the world of neuroscience by attending medical school.
"People have been worse than me. I mean, I was happy to be alive. I didn't know if I could still live after that," he said. "But I mean, it's incredible how far I've got here and I think I can help other people."
Student diver overcomes three brain surgeries to earn athletic awards
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