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33859-Mikaela Jenkins photo

Mikaela Jenkins

Swimming

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
S10, SB9, SM10

Further personal information

Residence
Evansville, IN, USA
Occupation
Student
Languages
English

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began swimming at age seven.
Why this sport?
She practised horseback riding until she was age seven. One of her friends then encouraged her to start swimming. "I said, 'Fine, I'll come once if you stop asking me'. I kind of quit riding horses the next day. I tried a couple swimming practices and realised I really enjoyed it. I really love to compete. I love the feeling of racing in the water. Even if I don't win, I have the knowledge that I tried my best and that allows me to walk away feeling satisfied and content."
Club / Team
FJ Reitz High School [USA] / Newburgh Sea Creatures [USA]:
Name of coach
Dave Baumeyer [FJ Reitz High School]; Aaron Opell [Newburgh]

General interest

Hobbies
Travel, spending time with friends, watching movies, reading books. (teamusa.org, 04 Dec 2019, 15 Sep 2019; Instagram profile, 10 Mar 2021)
Most influential person in career
Her mother, and coach Aaron Opell. (championsofactivewomen.libsyn.com, 29 Jan 2020)
Hero / Idol
US swimmers Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps, US Para swimmer Rebecca Meyers. (evansvilleliving.com, 15 Jun 2019; reitzmirror.com, 25 Jan 2018)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren't willing to do." [Michael Phelps] (reitzmirror.com, 25 Jan 2018)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (evansvilleliving.com, 15 Jun 2019)
Impairment
She was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency [PFFD], which meant one of her legs was longer than the other. At age eight months, her left foot was amputated. She was fitted with her first prosthesis at age one. "I have to do my dives differently than other swimmers and kicking, I've had to really work on strengthening my right leg and making sure both legs work together." (teamusa.org, 15 Sep 2019; tristatehomepage.com, 15 Mar 2015; 44 News Evansville, 13 Jan 2021)
Other information
COVID-19 IMPACT
She said she was partly glad that the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo were postponed to 2021, as she did not feel mentally ready to compete in Tokyo in 2020. "In a way, I'm grateful for it being postponed a year. It was definitely disappointing but it did give me some relief because I was not mentally prepared to take on that meet this year [2020]. So I think it has given me a lot more time to think through how I want to approach my swims and approach that whole meet." (44 News Evansville YouTube channel, 13 Jan 2021; teamusa.org, 25 Aug 2020)

TRAINING ISSUES
She trains with able-bodied swimmers, and completes all the same drills during training. However, she finds she can sometimes have difficulty kicking and pushing off the wall in the pool. "Kicking always is going to be my downfall because I'm just never going to have as much power as other people. It's just working on strengthening my one good leg enough to where I can keep up during sets in practice and I don't have to go in my own lane and do my own thing. I want to be competent enough in every area to swim with everybody else." (evansvilleliving.com, 15 Jun 2019)

FAMILY SUPPORT
Her mother is a physical therapist, which has helped Mikaela as she has grown up. "She definitely knew what she was doing when she was trying to get me to walk and keeping me on schedule. I think it helped set me up for having a life. It started me down a path that I could keep up with other children. It really set up that mindset which I never really thought about, until I started swimming." (championsofactivewomen.libsyn.com, 29 Jan 2020)