Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former St. Petersburg swim star injured by bomb in Afghanistan

ST. PETERSBURG — Brad Snyder's eyes are sewn shut. Much of his face is covered in third-degree burns. His left eardrum is shattered.

Sedated with pain medication in his bed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the 27-year-old U.S. Navy lieutenant told his brother about the encounter with a makeshift bomb in early September and the last thing he saw in Afghanistan.

"He heard a click and he turned around and saw it explode," said Mitchell Snyder, 24.

Though he'll regain his looks when the scars heal, Brad Snyder's life will be completely different when he comes home, doctors at the Maryland military hospital told his family.

"For now, they've told us to just more or less accept the fact that he's blind," Mitchell Snyder said.

Two Afghan soldiers who were with Brad Snyder and stood closer to the explosive were killed. No one else from Snyder's bomb squad unit was hurt.

Snyder was already a sort of local hero when he left for the U.S. Naval Academy.

He was a star swimmer at Northeast High School who set records there. He was among the best long-distance swimmers at St. Petersburg Aquatics and St. Pete Masters swim clubs. He inspired his younger siblings to the sport, too.

"He was always there, and he trained hard and he got great grades," said Fred Lewis, head coach at St. Petersburg Aquatics. "He was the all-American kid."

Mitchell Snyder said his brother was inspired by their grandfather, a Navy veteran. He wanted to be a Navy Seal, but was assigned to the elite explosive ordnance disposal unit. They trained him to search out all kinds of bombs on land and sea.

It was his second tour, and Snyder told his family that he was looking forward to coming home for good early next year.

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in naval architecture, and wanted to go back to college and learn to design buildings.

They knew he was last stationed in Kandahar. He couldn't tell his family much about his assignments, but told his brother he "switched places frequently."

Now he's coming home early, a wounded veteran, with new plans.

"He's very, very optimistic," Mitchell Snyder said. "He told me, 'There are many careers where I can still be successful.' "

Luis Perez can be reached at (727) 892-2271 or

If you go

The St. Petersburg Aquatics and St. Pete Masters swim clubs are hosting a Wounded Warrior fundraiser for U.S. Navy Lt. Brad Snyder on Oct. 7 at First Friday in downtown St. Petersburg. All tips at the beer truck from 5:30-10:30 p.m. will go to Snyder and his family.

Former St. Petersburg swim star injured by bomb in Afghanistan 09/24/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 24, 2011 10:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again


    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  3. What you need to know for Monday, Sept. 25


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Craig Butz, executive director of Pepin Academies and former professional hockey player, died in a crash with a boat Saturday. His daughter Teagan, 4, remained in critical condition Sunday afternoon. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   TIMES, 2013]
  4. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash


    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  5. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.