Year 12—365 days of knuckling down on schoolwork, rostering your work schedule around all the 18th parties and losing sleep over binging the latest hit TV series.
Not for Kirralee, a student at Genesis College, Bray Park, however. This local champ has spent the better half of her year 12 experience underwater, fighting to either make or break her dreams of becoming a Paralympian swimmer. And that she did by getting selected for the Tokyo Paralympic Games swim team, where she excelled!
On Wednesday 25th August, Kirralee made a fantastic Paralympic debut scoring a Personal Best in the 100m Butterfly S13. While she didn’t make the final of the Butterfly for that night, she did a fantastic job achieving her PB. Following on from her success in the Butterfly, Kirralee went on to swim a terrific race in the 50m Freestyle. Although placing Fourth, she unfortunately just missed out on a position in the finals.
Her selection and participation in the Games ignited a chain reaction of praise and inspiration across her senior squad at Genesis Sport & Aquatics, most of which grew up in the water with her. Genesis College, her squad, and her club, all supported every step of her journey—and celebrated her achievement of the end goal just as fervently with videos and gatherings. For many of her peers, it was encouraging to see someone so close to home make it so far.
Rick Pendleton, Kirralee’s coach and a former Paralympic swimmer himself, explains, ‘Just seeing an ordinary person, or someone you have grown up with, go on to achieve provides others with the idea that reaching your dreams is possible’.
Since coming to Genesis in 2018, he always thought Kirralee’s bright future was likely, with her promising racing speed and good composure. He says, ‘Kirralee seems to be a very intelligent girl who is in control of her surroundings. The level of drive that it has taken to perform this year whilst going through year 12 would have been no easy feat.’
For Rick, for Kirralee, and for everyone in the Paralympics community, the best part about being involved was seeing the way in which the movement and acceptance of Paralympic swimming has grown through the years.