Mikaela Jenkins has been swimming for most of her life, and her coaches have plenty to say about her work ethic.
"It takes a unique skill set to and more so a very unique mentality to be elite at what you do and I think that she certainly possesses that in the sense that, she's always looking to improve," said Newburgh Sea Creatures Head Coach Aaron Opell.
Jenkins has been swimming competitively despite having her foot amputated when she was 8 months old.
"I have a condition called PFFD which stands for Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency and that means that my left femur is shorter than my right femur and so, in order to avoid like limb lengthening or being in a wheel chair the rest of my life, they decided to amputate my foot. It was definitely a learning curve but, the only real things that I have to work on are, I do my dives differently than other swimmers and, kicking I've just had to really work on strengthening my right leg and making sure both legs work together," said Reitz Senior Mikaela Jenkins.
The Reitz senior did not swim for the Panthers last season, instead she was training to compete in the Paralympic games, which were unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic.
"It definitely was disappointing, but it gave me some relief because I was not mentally prepared to take on that meet this year and I think it's given me a lot more time to think through how I want to approach my swims and I want to approach that whole meet," said Jenkins.
Jenkins still plans on competing at next year's rescheduled Paralympics and hopes to have success in the pool similar to another famous Panther.
"I think it is really special that the same school, the same club team has had an Olympian and hopefully will also have a Paralympian next year. I just think that it's really cool that both sides of the spectrum are being represented especially in the same town and same high school," said Jenkins
And though swimming did come with its challenges at first, Jenkins' experience is something from which we can all learn.
"Regret lasts longer than pain does. So, I feel like that's always important to remember when you're going through something hard to not give up because you may end up regretting it," said Jenkins.