Chrysa Nowell – Bringing New Meaning to the Words "Competitive Athlete"!

15-year-old Chrysa Nowell is a competitive athlete, swimming on her high school’s swim team. When Chrysa gets in the pool, she doesn’t outswim anyone, and she never places in any of her meets. Yet she is one of the most dedicated and beloved competitors of all. That’s because Chrysa has a disease called arthrogryposis that has caused her muscles to be deformed, making it incredibly difficult for her to even swim at all!

When Chrysa was born with arthrogryposis, doctors told her parents all the things she’d never be able to do. But day by day, with unfailing determination and amazing spirit, Chrysa proves her doctors wrong as she lives her life to the fullest and truly competes in the sport she loves the most!

This video tells Chrysa’s incredible story.

Additional Resources:

  • This website has a video of Chrysa in action at one her swim meets!

Topics for Discussion:

  • How do you think Chrysa feels when she is swimming?
  • Does Chrysa’s swimming effort change your view of competitive athletics? How?

Take Action:

  • Do you know anyone with a disability? See if you can help them pursue their passion, just as Chrysa does!
  • Visit the Athletes with Disabilities Network website to learn more about these amazing athletes and how you can help support them!

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.


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