SwimmingAhalya Lettenberger Eager to Make Paralympics Debut in Tokyo

Ahalya Lettenberger Eager to Make Paralympics Debut in Tokyo

Ahalya Lettenberger Eager to Make Paralympics Debut in Tokyo

Ahalya Lettenberger is one of the United States’ newest Paralympians. She made her international debut in 2014, competing for the United States, and ever since learning about the Paralympic world, she has always wanted to become a Paralympian. She will compete at the Tokyo Games in the S7, SB6 and SM7 categories, seeing action in the 400 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

Her swimming career began at the age of 11. Before that, she was involved in multiple sports. “When I was a lot younger, I played football and softball, but soon the fields got too big, and the other kids got too fast.” Lettenberger was worn with arthrogryposis amyoplasia, a muscular skeletal disorder that affects her lower limbs.

“It was becoming more stressful on my legs to continue to be on a land sports team,” she said. “But I wanted to be still involved. My neighbors recommended joining the local swim club. I love the freedom the water gives me. When I’m in the water, it’s just like I’m like everybody else.”

From this introduction, Lettenberger has been able to compete for Team USA in multiple competitions. She swam at the Paralympic Trials back in 2016 and cherished that experience, which led her to compete in the 2021 Trials.

If it wasn’t already impressive enough being on the Paralympic team, Lettenberger is a junior at Rice University in Houston. She is majoring in bioengineering on the premed track. Her career goal is to help others with a disability. As a person with a disability, she understood that her training differs from her teammates.

“There was an adjustment period,” she said of her early days at Rice. “I know I’m not the fastest, but I worked with Coach Seth (Huston), and we plan. Since I don’t use my legs to kick, I would swim freestyle during the IM sets and IM during the kick sets. We had a lot of communication about modifications. But honestly, I love the team. I enjoy training with faster people because it pushes me, and I’ve seen some improvements in my events.”

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