Police officer racks up weightlifting awards


Cpl. Laurie Middleswarth, center, receives a $500 donation for travel expenses from Shooting Sports Center at Eastern NC Indoor Shooting Range.


Staff Writer

Monday, May 13, 2019

Whether it's law enforcement or weightlifting, Rocky Mount's Cpl. Laurie Middleswarth is a stand out.

Recognized as the strongest woman in North Carolina and 14th strongest in the world, Middleswarth recently was named Police Officer of the Year by the Lions Club, an honor bestowed by her Rocky Mount Police Department peers.

Middleswarth is the first and only female member of the department’s Special Response Team. She also serves on the police honor guard.

"No limits," Middleswarth said. "If I want to do something, I go for it."

The Zebulon native grew up familiar with Rocky Mount as her father worked as a truck driver in the city for 20 years. Middleswarth joined the U.S. Marine Corps out of high school in 2005. She graduated magna cum laude from N.C. Wesleyan College in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and psychology.

Middleswarth joined the RMPD in 2013 and in 2018 was promoted from senior police officer to corporal. She said she chose a career in law enforcement because it allowed her to continue serving the community.

She grew up with two older brothers, was always athletic and possesses a natural strength. Weightlifting seemed like a good fit when she was looking for a way to stay in shape.

As a Marine, Middleswarth lifted weights while stationed in Iraq. Her weightlifting career took off when a sergeant at a gym told her she could lift more than she thought. She now lifts 500 pounds.

Middleswarth has been competing as an amateur with no sponsors. But that's changing.

The newly-opened Shooting Sports Center at Eastern NC Indoor Shooting Range joined East Coast K-9 in donating $500 to help Middleswarth with travel expenses.

Shooting range owner Leon Peele, a former city police officer, is challenging the police department, Nash County Sheriff's Office and Planet Fitness to match the donation.

Middleswarth's accomplishments include:

■ Strongest woman in North Carolina in 2017.

■ Fourteenth place in the world during the National Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic Strongwoman Qualifiers in 2017.

■ First place in Brute Strength and Strongest Southern Belle during ninth Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic World Amateur Event in 2018.

■ Third place at the USS Nationals in 2018.

■ Second place in Brute Strength, 17th place in World's Strongest Woman in 2019.

Middleswarth's goals are twofold: Become a detective and captain at the police department and be recognized as the strongest woman in the world.