Breanna Sprenger of Avon had her game face on just moments before she was placed into the Olympic-sized pool during the 2013 International Paralympic Committee World Championships in Montreal.
She looked focused and ready to swim.
In the stands, above the pool, Carrie Sprenger was a nervous wreck as she watched her daughter prepare for the first time to represent team U.S.A. in the women’s 50-meter backstroke.
“Very emotional,” the mother of three posted to Facebook six minutes before the start of the race.
It’s amazing to think when Breanna was born 12 years ago with no legs and one arm, doctors didn’t expect her to live. She proved them wrong and swam for the first time Wednesday as a part of the U.S. Paralympics team.
She came in sixth in a field of six swimmers, but did exceptionally well considering.
“Breanna qualified to compete for the U.S.A. with a S1 time of 3:09 in March of this year,” read an update on her Team Breanna Facebook page. “Today, she swam her best time for her country at 2:29. The only S1 swimming with the S2 swimmers.”
In the Paralympics world, swimmers are categorized based on their handicap and use of limbs, not age or ability. S1 swimmers are the most severely handicapped swimmers. With one limb — an arm fused together at the elbow — Breanna fits that category.
But there are very few swimmers at that level of competition for Breanna to swim against, so to make the team, she had to qualify as an S2 swimmer.
The Sprengers went into the Paralympics knowing Breanna was a longshot to place because she was swimming up a level, but they also chalk it up to a great experience.
Her race Wednesday, they hope, is the first of what they hope will be an amazing swimming career for their daughter.