“I live each day to its fullest.”
Hometown: Palos Hills, Illinois
Past & Current Teams: 2016 US Paralympic Team Rio, 2015 & 2011 Athletes Without Limits Global Games US Team Member, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Stagg High School, Hickory Willow Swim Club, Saluki Swim Club, Mount Greenwood Local Elite Age Group Team
Coach(s): Kristen Cichocki, Tom Rieman and Barry Holman
Leslie is the highest ranked swimmer with intellectual disability in the US. She holds a number of National and Americas Region records and was the first US swimmer with intellectual impairment selected for the Rio 2016 US Paralympic team where she earned a 7th place finish in the women’s 100m backstroke final. She came close to qualifying for the 2012 London Games with a strong performance at 2012 the US Paralympic Trials.
Leslie competed in her first international meet at the 2011 INAS Global Games World Championships in Italy where she swam an aggressive nine race schedule. She made three finals, ranking 6th in two events and 8th in a third. She posted six personal best times. Leslie has since been training at multiple high-performance centers, including time in Australia. She regularly competes in US Paralympic and other events to get ready for the 2015 Inas Global Games in Ecuador as part of her bid for the 2016 US Paralympic team.
Leslie received her INAS/Paralympic eligibility confirmation on May 20, 2011 and the very next day began setting INAS Americas Regional records at the GTAC US Paralympic Meet. At that meet, she met the international qualification standards for 10 swimming events, earning her place on the Athletes Without Limits US Team to Liguria Italy for the Global Games World Championships.
In competition, Leslie is both calm and powerful. At one of her first Paralympic meets she was the only female swimmer in the entire meet to complete a 200 Butterfly, earning her huge props from her teammates and the Paralympic swim community. Leslie has been swimming since she was four years old. When she is not in the pool — which is rare these days — Leslie also enjoys putting her athleticism to work playing other sports and encouraging fellow Athletes Without Limits throughout the US on Facebook.
In her own words…
I enjoy working out daily. I never give up and take every opportunity seriously and try hard to achieve my goals. I like helping swimmers with special needs improve their skill level as a volunteer coach with Orland Park Special Olympic Swim Team. I graduated from Victor J.Andrew High School in May 2007 and go to Moraine Valley Community College. My major is culinary arts and baking, I am currently certified in Food Service Sanitation and want to be a chef some day.
Leslie’s London 2012 Blog
Leslie was selected by INAS to write a monthly blog about her journey to make the London games.
Read Leslie’s Blog
- 2016 Rio Paralympics Team USA
- 2015 Inas Global Games Athletes Without Limits US Team
- 2014 Ecuador Swimming Championships US Team
- 2011 Global Games World Championships, Loano Italy
- 2011 First US Paralympic Meet, Cincinnati, Ohio
- Mount Greenwood Master Swim Team Record-holder in 100 butterfly.
- Oak Lawn Park District 2010 Athlete of the Year
- Illinois Special Olympics State Championships (2007-Present)
The following individuals and organizations provided Leslie with private sponsorship to help offset costs for competing at the 2011 Global Games in Italy. Thank you for your support and to those who purchased candy bars from Leslie!