LOVELAND, OHIO - April Kerley from Loveland won her first individual World Championships medal, a silver, in the women's S9 event in the U.S. Paralympics Swimming World Championship in Durban, South Africa.
The U.S. Team won 11 medals on Thursday, the final day of competition and finished with 56 medals to take the top spot in the overall medal count for the first time at a major Paralympic competition (Paralympic Games or World Championships).
The U.S. wasted little time jumping out to the early lead on December 2, highlighted by a world record-breaking performance in the Women's 34 pt. 4x100m freestyle relay. The team of April Kerley, Ashley Owens (Stockbridge, Ga.), Erin Popovich (Silverbow, Mont.), and Jessica Long (Dundalk, Md.) blew away the field, finishing in 4:30.66 and cutting more than eight seconds off the previous world record time.
Kerley started swimming at age six and began competing two years later. She swam for Dublin Coffman High School in Columbus, Ohio, and collegiately at Xavier University for one season. After learning about Paralympic swimming, she ended a seven-year hiatus from the sport and began training to compete internationally.
Kerley earned her bachelor's degree in public relations and currently works full-time as the marketing director at The Financial Network Group, in Cincinnati. She visits local schools to discuss Paralympic sport and encourages kids to be active. Kerley also mentors a Xavier University student-athlete.
Kerley is a registered swimmer with USA Swimming at the Seneca Aquatic Klub, under the direction of Ohio Northern University swimming coach Peggy Ewald. Kerley also trains with the Wilmington College swim team and their head coach, Trip Breen, as well as coach Doug Gibson, a physical therapy assistant and president of the Sensible Fitness Personal Training Center.
In addition to training at Wilmington College and her local U.S. Masters Swim Team, she competes in 5K and 10K charity races.
Earlier this year, Kerley set the American and Pan American record in the S9 50m freestyle at the U.S. Paralympics Swimming National Championships, San Antonio, Texas. She is ranked third in the World.
Kerley was born without her right hand and swims in the S9 classification. Swimming for men and women has been a part of the Paralympic program since the first Games in 1960 in Rome, Italy. Paralympic swimming competitions occur in 50-meter pools and, while competing, no prostheses or assistive devices may be worn.
S9 (S before the Class represents Freestyle, Backstroke and Butterfly)
Examples: Swimmers with severe weakness in one leg only; swimmers with very slight coordination problems; swimmers with one limb loss Unless there is an underlying medical condition usually all of these athletes will start out of the water.