Wheeler makes waves at Paralympics

By Anthony Markert

Many students may have hung out with friends, done homework, or even went on a family vacation over spring break.

Meanwhile, Kayla Wheeler was swimming in Minneapolis for the U.S. Paralympic CAN-AM Nationals and World Championship Trials.

Wheeler competed in the 50 meter freestyle, the 50 meter butterfly and the 100 meter freestyle in the S1 division. According to the International Paralympic Committee, there are 13 different classes. The athletes who are physically impaired are in the S1-S10 classification, and those with lower classifications are more severely impaired.

Wheeler posted a 2:58.27 in the 100 freestyle and a 1:30.57 in the 50 butterfly, breaking her own world record. “I had my mind set on breaking that record,” Wheeler revealed.

For those that don’t know, Wheeler was born with one arm and no legs. Through this struggle, she has found a sport that she is fond of and also very successful at.

“I’ve been in the water since I was 8 months old, and I’ve been swimming competitively for five years,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler came home with some serious hardware, receiving 6 medals and 4 trophies. In addition to her own world record, Wheeler broke five American and four Pan-American records.

She received “Female Swimmer of the Day” for all 3 days of the competition and was awarded “Swim of the Meet” at the end. This award is based off of a point system according to the World ranking.

To top it all off, Wheeler made the US Paralympic National Team and is competing in the World Championships in Montreal this summer. Wheeler has made some truly outstanding accomplishments with her swimming and should find an immense sense of pride in her performance.