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The 11-year-old swimming sensation competes on the national stage


MADISON, Wisconsin (WMTV) – The long-awaited Olympics begin later this week! But the Paralympics are next month in Tokyo and there’s a young athlete in Madison who could be there someday.

11-year-old Bowen Ketarkus has been training at the Westside Swim Club in Madison for years. All of that practice is paying off as he competes in the Move United Junior Nationals for Paralympic athletes in Denver, Colorado this week.

“I was with him the first year he was here when the first goal was to get him to swim 25 meters and we didn’t know how this summer would be and now he’s like totally crushing him,” said the manager of the Westside Swim Club coach Susi First.

“Bowen is a great athlete, in a holistic sense, he wants to be part of the team, he’s super coachable,” said his mother Becky. “His stroke is now what I would call smooth.”

Bowen was born with the most common form of dwarfism called Achondroplasia. His condition can make it difficult to perform certain movements in the pool.

“His head and torso are average size – like an average 11-year-old – but his arms and legs are shorter, which makes it harder to legally swim,” Becky said.

Despite his physical limitations in the pool, Bowen continued to swim and never gave up.

“He’s been here with the coaches since day one. They know Bowen, he’s like every other kid in the water, they push him to do his best, ”added Becky.

Even though he’s been very successful in the pool, Bowen is just your average 11 year old 5th grade boy. He enjoys swimming because he has the opportunity to socialize with his best friends.

“I like going out with my friends because they’re nice to me and they make me laugh and I make them laugh too,” he said.

Bowen’s years of dedication to the sport have already paid off. He has competed in this competition in the past and won three medals.

“He works hard and you can see him, you can see him in his shot,” First said. “I’m very proud.”

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