Evansville swimmer preps for 2020 Paralympic Games
NEWBURGH, Ind. (WFIE) - The 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo are set for August, and one Evansville swimmer is preparing to make a splash on Team USA.
Just as the sun was rising above the Castle High School natatorium Monday morning, 18-year-old and Reitz High School graduate Mikaela Jenkins was headed to the pool.
She is wasting no time, with the Games now just seven weeks away.
It is the first time this Evansville native will represent Team USA in the red, white and blue.
“There was a little bit of relief there,” says Jenkins, “because waiting five years to know if you’ve made the team or not is definitely a lot.”
Until she leaves for Tokyo on August 14, Jenkins trains at Castle High School six days a week as a member of the Newburgh Swim Club.
The club is a historic program sprinkled with stand-out swimmers, including Evansville’s own Lilly King.
“Bryce Hunt is also an Olympian,” says Jenkins. “He came from this pool. There have been tons of national team members that have come from this club team.”
Now, Jenkins is paving the way for the Sea Creatures as a Paralympian.
“Evansville has had an Olympian, and now, Evansville has had a Paralympian,” says Jenkins. “It is just nice to see both sides of the spectrum being represented.”
Even though international fans will not be allowed in Tokyo, Jenkins says that is okay. She says she welcomes a couple of empty seats.
“I’m not sure how many seats are in the stands,” says Jenkins, “but it’s like probably 20,000. Knowing there is going to be half of that, just for my first Games, feels a little comforting knowing that, because that is definitely the largest group of people I’ve ever swam in front of.”
The world will be watching on Tuesday, August 24 for the opening ceremony of the 2020 Paralympic Games.
Mikaela says she will compete in four individual races: the 100-meter fly, 100-meter breaststroke, 100-meter backstroke and the 200-meter individual medley.
She could also qualify for two relay races once she arrives in Tokyo.
Back here at home, people can support both Mikaela and Lilly King while also supporting two local charities.
The two Team USA athletes partnered to organize a t-shirt fundraiser benefiting the Vanderburgh County Special Olympics and a swimming program for the Evansville Dream Center.
You can order your t-shirt here.
The deadline to order those Lilly and Mikaela shirts is Wednesday, July 7.
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