Though it’s just his first year on the swim team, a freshman at Saugus High School is being recognized as the squad’s motivating force.
Cameron Lutges was only 10 months old when both his legs were amputated above the knee. It’s hard not to take note of his adept use of upper body strength to propel himself through water without the help of lower extremities.
But since he’s lived life without legs about as long as he can remember, Lutges, now 15, doesn’t let his anatomy define him and works hard to be recognized for more than the challenges he faces.
“I am obviously not the same as other kids, but I don’t like seeing myself that way,” he said.
Jim Klipfel, the swim team’s coach, said Lutges not only keeps up with his teammates but exceeds expectations, and not just physically.
“We have a saying here that attitude’s a choice, and when Cameron joined us last fall he epitomized that,” Klipfel said.
Cameron LaBrie, a junior on the swim team, said Lutges’ drive makes him an inspiration to others on the squad.
“He’s always been the one that’s most encouraging on the team,” he said. “He doesn’t have the lower portion of his legs, but everybody on this team sees him as an equal.”
Lutges even insisted on meeting with KTLA only when all his teammates could be present.
“We’ve grown a lot as a team and I just wanted to involve them in this,” he explained.
For his part, Lutges has raised the bar for others on the team, senior Lars Heinstedt said.
“He’s the swimmer that shows up every day,” he told KTLA. “A lot of guys will be like, ‘You know what? It’s Friday, maybe I won’t go to practice.’ But Cameron has never been that way.”
Watching Lutges perform inspired the entire team to raise their standards, according to Steven Plante, a senior.
“He’s used his upper body so well that sometimes he’s right there with everyone else, Plante said. “You don’t even think about he doesn’t have legs.”
The appreciation is mutual, Lutges said.
“They’re kind people. They never put someone down and they’re always inclusive,” he said of his teammates. “It’s like I’m just one of the swimmers, and I like that.”