Swimmers Visit Community Prior To Para Swimming World Series in Indianapolis

By Melissa Zhang | April 03, 2019, 8:06 p.m. (ET)

 Mallory Weggemann, McKenzie Coan and Mikaela Jenkins pose with second-graders at Mary Bryan Elementary School.

McKenzie Coan, Mikaela Jenkins and Mallory Weggemann spent a morning with the second graders at Mary Bryan Elementary School in Indianapolis.


Paralympic champions and hopefuls alike traveled to Indianapolis for the 2019 World Para Swimming World Series meet — but first, they spent time sharing their stories and raising awareness about the Paralympic Movement in the community.

Members of the U.S. Paralympics Swimming national team visited a local elementary school and swim team prior to competing at the Indiana University Natatorium from April 4-6.

Three athletes spent their Wednesday morning speaking to second-grade students at Mary Bryan Elementary School. Several of the students had just been reading a story about fellow Paralympian and five-time medalist Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Bloomington, California) that week, and were learning more about adaptive sports and the Paralympic Games.

U.S. Paralympics swimmer Mikaela Jenkins (Evansville, Indiana), two-time Paralympic medalist Mallory Weggemann (Eagan, Minnesota) and four-time Paralympic medalist McKenzie Coan (Clarksville, Georgia) shared their stories and swimming backgrounds with approximately 125 students.

Jenkins is an Indiana native herself, hailing from Evansville. The sixteen-year old will also compete at the fourth world series stop on the circuit, hosted by Glasgow, Scotland.

The swimmers answered questions from the students about their training and impairments, and handed out Team USA stickers and t-shirts. Coan and Weggemann let the students pass around their gold medals from the Paralympic Games London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Later in the evening, Paralympic silver medalist Sophia Herzog (Fairplay, Colorado) and world championship silver medalist Gia Pergolini (Roswell, Georgia) visited the Benjamin Harrison YMCA in Lawrence, Indiana, to speak to the swim team from the Indiana School For the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Pergolini, who has a visual impairment due to Stargardt’s disease, talked with a student with the same condition. The students asked Pergolini and Herzog about their training regimens, and favorite strokes and events, among other things.

This year marks the third year in a row that Indianapolis has served as a stop on the World Para Swimming world series circuit, hosting nearly 200 athletes from 17 countries this week. The meet begins on April 4, and serves as the trials for the U.S. roster for the Parapan American Games this fall in Lima, Peru.