Wheeler is a 16-year-old swimming phenomenon despite being born without legs and one arm. The junior at Mountlake Terrace (Wash.) High School is a Paralympic world record holder in the 50 meter butterfly and has competed around the world. She even qualified for the 2012 London Paralympic Games, but she did not go because there was not enough competition, KCPQ reports.
“I didn’t get to make the team because there were no female events for my classification, which is an S1. That’s the most disabled you could be and still swim,” Kayla told KCPQ.
Wheeler got started with swimming at an early age after a doctor recommended lessons as a form of therapy. She hasn’t stopped since.
“Just when you think she can`t do any better, she does it again,” her mother, Joyce Wheeler, told KCPQ.
Wheeler is gearing up for a competition at the International Paralympic World Championships in Montreal this August.
In addition to her swimming prowess, Wheeler also excels in school.
According to KCPQ, Wheeler is on her school’s robotics team, takes advanced classes at a local community college, and was named a Scholastic All-American.
Wheeler is no stranger to media coverage. In 2010, KCPQ did a story on the young lady when she was in eighth grade (video below). Wheeler explained in that interview why swimming is so great for her.
“It makes me feel free because I don’t necessarily have all the limitations that I do out of the water,” Wheeler said at the time. “I can do flips in the water. I can do cartwheels in the water. Things that kind of defy gravity.”
The video also showed her participating in bowling, ballet, and baseball. She even was taking ski lessons, and called skiing the “most awesome sport ever, except for swimming.”
Wheeler’s overall attitude is an inspiration to all of us.
“I don’t really try to feel sad about my life kind of thing. I just try to find other ways to make it better than it already is.”