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21872-Ahalya Lettenberger photo

Ahalya Lettenberger

Swimming

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Impaired range of motion
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
S7, SB6, SM7

Further personal information

Residence
Glen Ellyn, IL, USA
Occupation
Athlete, Student
Languages
English
Higher education
Bioengineering - Rice University: Houston, TX, USA

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began swimming at age 11 in Chicago, IL, United States of America.
Why this sport?
She used to be on softball and football teams, but from 2011 she found that she was experiencing too much pain in her hips when she played. She then tried swimming and fell in love with it immediately. "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. My neighbours 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."
Club / Team
Rice University: Houston, TX, USA
Name of coach
Seth Huston [club]
Training Regime
She trains twice a day, six days a week.

International debut

Year
2014
Competing for
United States
Tournament
Pan Pacific Championships
Location
Pasadena, CA, USA

General interest

Hobbies
Playing the piano and the viola, cooking, baking. (teamusa.org, 18 Sep 2018)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in the S8 100m backstroke at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto, ON, Canada. (gwhsnews.org, 15 May 2019; Athlete, 21 Jan 2016)
Hero / Idol
US Para swimmer Cortney Jordan. (disabledsportsusa.org, 25 Jun 2017)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Sport in general opens up so many opportunities, and just helps you to embrace who you are. I am just so excited to show youths and others what you can accomplish with a disability." (disabledsportsusa.org, 25 Jun 2017)
Awards and honours
She was named USA Development Para Triathlete of the Year for 2017. (roadrunnersports.com, 12 May 2018)
Other sports
She represented the United States of America in Para triathlon at the world championships in 2017 and 2018. (SportsDeskOnline, 13 Aug 2019; teamusa.org, 18 Sep 2018)
Impairment
She was born with arthrogryposis and bilateral hip dysplasia, which affects the range in movement of her lower limbs. "My hips are dislocated. My knees only bend to 90 degrees and my ankles don't move at all. When I started swimming competitively I enjoyed it, but I was finishing last in every race. I cannot use my legs in the water, but I was competing against other [able-bodied] kids who could. Eventually I found out about Para swimming. I went to my first Para meet in 2013 and loved it. I can compete like I have always wanted to, on a level playing field so to speak." (abc13.com, 14 Sep 2019; news.rice.edu, 03 Sep 2019; Athlete, 21 Jan 2016, 24 Nov 2014; teamusa.org, 13 May 2015)
Other information
GOOD TIMES
She says that since getting involved in Para swimming in 2012 she has been appreciative of the sport's sense of community. "We've become a big community, because we've all gone through different experiences and overcome certain obstacles, so it brings us all together. This doesn't apply to just the US. The close family feel also applies to international meets. You see different things across the deck that you won't see any other meet. You'll see something or someone that will inspire and motivate you in every corner of the pool deck. Every swimmer, parent, and fan are more empathetic and more supportive of each other. In some of the less qualified meets, you'll see people swimming for the first time, and everyone will be cheering them on. Everyone is definitely competitive, but there is still that tight-knit community feel." (swimmingworldmagazine.com, 29 Jun 2019; Athlete, 21 Jan 2016)