Kayla Wheeler was born with three congenital amputations: missing both legs and one arm. Her doctor recommended swimming as a form of physical therapy.
And now, at age 16, Wheeler is literally breaking world records.
Washington CNN affiliate KCPQ reports that Wheeler already has competed in Brazil, Mexico and the Netherlands and has her sights set on competing in the next Paralympics in 2016.
"It's kind of indescribable. When they announce her name and she's representing the United States, I get goose bumps all over. I'm so amazed that's my child," Joyce Wheeler, Kayla's mother, said.
"We always told her there is nothing you can't do, we just might have to figure out a different way for you to do it, and she has pushed the envelope.”
And when she’s not swimming, Wheeler also plays baseball, bowls and skis.
She’s also reportedly a top student, participating in a community college Rocketry and Robotics Team while also taking advanced courses.
This year she was named a scholastic All-American for her academic and athletic accomplishments.
Wheeler actually qualified for last year’s Paralympics, but she wasn’t able to compete because there technically wasn’t anyone for her to compete with. The Paralympics divides competitors into divisions based on the severity of their physical disabilities.
"I didn't get to make the team because there were no female events for my classification, which is an S1. That's the most disabled you could be and still swim," Wheeler said.
"I like being able to represent my country. That's amazing breaking records and getting medals, but I like being out there as a role model too.”