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Knutson stopped swimming a year ago to seek treatment for an eating disorder that she feared might kill her. She dropped out this month because her family’s savings were being siphoned by her medical bills and her college tuition. After losing her USA Swimming stipend, Knutson said, she did not have the money to finance her comeback.
Compounding the financial stress was the pressure she felt in the pool to meet everybody’s great expectations, a burden she shouldered throughout her teenage years, when she was a world champion and held an American record.
“Sometimes when I look back at myself in high school, and the years I had the most success, I don’t want to say I was clinically depressed, but I wasn’t genuinely happy,” Knutson said. “I look back now and I feel like I have to be like that to be good because that’s what worked at the time, and I don’t want to be that person.”