By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

TOKYO (CBS) — Swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger won the silver medal in the 200-meter individual medley at the Paralympics in Tokyo – part of a 1-2 finish by Americans in the event.

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the games back a year, making the wait a little longer for Olympians and Paralympians. We caught up with the Rice University student and Glenbard West alum before she left for Tokyo.

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“I have a condition called arthrogryposis amyoplasia,” Lettenberger explained. “It’s a muscular skeletal disorder that affects me from the hips down. It causes muscle weakness and joint restrictions, so when I swim, I swim only with my arms and not my legs which is totally different than what able-bodied swimmers do.”

We first met the Glen Ellyn native two years ago as she was training for the World Championships at the B.R. Ryall YMCA.

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After just missing out on qualifying for the Rio games five years ago and then watching the pandemic shut everything down last year, Ahalya wasn’t sure this day would ever come.

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“So much of last year, I was like “I don’t even know if the games will end up happening. Will I have to wait four more years?” Not even knowing when I was going to be able to get back in a pool. It was definitely really tough to stay in shape. I did a lot of running in my wheelchair and biking. One of my friends let me use their little 10-yard pool, so I tied a little bungy cord and swam in place,” says Lettenberger.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff