Kerley first heard of the Paralympics in the summer of 2005. “Initially, I thought it was geared toward people in wheelchairs and I didn’t think I would be able to relate or be on the same competition level,” she says.
A competitive swimmer since grade school, Kerley was hesitant to hit the pool again. “I didn’t want to have happen to me what happened in college, which was burnout,” she says. However, it didn’t take long to get back into competitive mode. By October, she attended the first qualifying meet for a Paralympic competition, and things snowballed from there.
After the Belgium competition, Kerley revamped her workouts with the help of Ohio Northern University swim coach Peggy Ewald to alleviate shoulder problems.
Today, Kerley is a Paralympic American, Pan-American and World record holder and world-ranked swimmer on the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Elite Team. She won her first individual World Championships medal—a silver—in the U.S. Paralympics Swimming World Championships in Durban, South Africa.
Now, Kerley is training for the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, and building awareness about the program. “The message is that kids and adults, no matter what their circumstance, can be competitive, be healthy and do things to maintain their fitness.”