11-year-old swimming sensation competes on the national stage


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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -The long-awaited Olympic games begin later this week! But the Paralympic games will be held next month in Tokyo and there’s a young athlete in Madison who might be there one day.

11-year-old Bowen Ketarkus has been training at Madison’s Westside Swim Club for years. All of that practice is paying off as he competes in the Move United Junior Nationals for Paralympic athletes in Denver, Colorado this week.

“I was with him the first year he was here when the first goal was getting him through a 25 (meter) swim and we weren’t sure how that summer would go and now he’s like totally crushing it,” said Westside Swim Club head coach Susi First.

“Bowen is a great athlete, in a holistic sense, he wants to be a part of the team, he’s super coachable,” said his mom Becky. “His stroke is now what I would call smooth.”

Bowen was born with the most common form of dwarfism called Achondroplasia. His condition can make it challenging to perform certain strokes in the pool.

“His head and torso are average size — like an average 11-year-old — but his arms and legs are shorter so that makes it more difficult to swim strokes legally,” said Becky.

Despite his physical limitations in the pool, Bowen just kept swimming and never gave up.

“He has been here with the coaches since day one. They know Bowen, he’s just like every other kid in the water, they push him to do the best he can do,” added Becky.

Even though he’s found plenty of success in the pool, Bowen is just your average 11-year-old 5th grade boy. He enjoys swimming because he gets to socialize with his best friends.

“I like hanging out with my friends because they are nice to me and they make me laugh and I make them laugh, too,” he said.

Bowen’s years of dedication to the sport have already paid off. He competed in this competition in the past and brought home three medals.

“He works hard and you can tell, you can see it in his stroke,” said First. “I’m very proud.”

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