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Listening Time — 23:23

Alyssa Gialamas, paralympic swimmer, in the pool.

Paralympic swimmer Alyssa Gialamas may have seemed unlikely to become a world-class athlete when she was born with arthrogryposis. It is a rare condition that causes affected joints to be rigid, and Alyssa needs long leg braces to walk.

After a physical therapist suggested swimming for strength and mobility, she took to the pool like a natural. In the water, Alyssa has felt empowered since she first began swimming. By age 13, she was swimming in adaptive sports events. Just four years later, she competed in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. In 2016 she swam in the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Now, Alyssa is a busy young woman who juggles a demanding career and training routine. She talks about what drives her and the impact that physical therapy and her mother's support have on her life. She also highlights what she wants every person with a disability to know.

This "best of" episode first aired in 2019. Here's our conversation with Alyssa.

Download the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Play, or listen below.

Alyssa Gialamas, paralympic swimmer

Alyssa Gialamas began swimming at the age of 3. She has adapted to life with arthrogryposis. Her motto, "You adapt, you overcome," led her to earn a lane in the pool as a Division 1 athlete for Loyola University Maryland, from which she graduated in 2018. She holds 22 American records and is a 2-time Paralympian. Recently, she won the gold and silver medals in Lima, Peru, at the Parapan Games.

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