The first thing most people do when they see Amy Chapman line up for a swim race is perform a quick double take. There’s little wonder why: She doesn’t have any legs.
Incredibly, Chapman, who attends Lehi (Utah) High, has found ways to participate in a wide variety of sports despite losing both of her legs to amputation at just 13 months old. According to the Deseret News, Chapman grew up swimming, playing soccer (with prosthetic legs) and even competing in gymnastics. Throughout it all, she has insisted on taking part in every part of every drill, even though a lack of lower appendages should rule out some of the drills her teammates use.
"We never knew anything about adaptive sports," Amy Chapman told the News. "I could do everything I wanted so I never really needed them. I did gymnastics; I played soccer. I just wasn't as fast, but I could still do it. I just had to find my own way.
"The fact that I had to find a way to do it made it so I knew I could.”
According to Chapman’s parents, a big part of their daughter’s ability came from the family she was born into. Chapman was born alongside an able-bodied twin brother and is the daughter of a collegiate swimmer at BYU and college basketball player at Utah. In short, those factors made it a near certainty that Chapman would insist on taking part in all kinds of athletic activities.
For a girl who grew up putting on her legs the way many put on their shoes, the ability to compete against others who were born with similar hardships has been liberating. After growing up competing against able-bodied athletes, Chapman now is aiming at a spot in the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. She has yet to determine whether to compete for a spot as a swimmer or basketball player, but should stand to have a legitimate shot at earning a position in either sport.
Not bad for a teen who already serves as an inspiration for her able bodied teammates each day she walks on to the pool deck for a swimming practice.
"I thought there is potential for this athlete to be very inspiring to the other swimmers, depending on attitude," Lehi swimming coach Dennis Meyring told the News. "Then I met her and thought, 'Wow. She has such a positive attitude and just determination. She has goals and she knows what she wants.' It doesn't take long [for her to fit in].
"She'll completely disarm you. You just don't even see her as a person with a disability, and that's because of the way she approaches things."