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A Kenosha-area swimmer set an American swimming record in the S9 Freestyle 1,500-meter event at the Pleasant Prairie RecPlex Aqua Arena last week, breaking the previous record by more than 30 seconds.

Keegan Knott, 16, a Tokyo 2020 Paralympian, member of the United States national team and member of the Pleasant Prairie Patriots swim team, swam the event in 20 minutes and 25.67 seconds on June 10 .

“I’ve always loved swimming since I was a kid, my mom would throw me in the pool and I would wade in,” Keegan said. “I knew I was capable of getting it and I love distance swimming.”

This certainty was more than just trust. Keegan previously broke the record, unofficially, in 2018. Her trainer, RecPlex Aquatics manager Steve Frye, said that by tracking her intervals for this attempt, she was faster from the start.

“She was pretty confident at the start,” Steve said. “She didn’t realize how badly she had broken him until afterwards.”

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When she saw her hour, Keegan was surprised taken by surprise.

“It was crazy, honestly, I didn’t expect to break it that much,” Keegan said. “I just wanted to try to do everything.”

Michele Knott, Keegan’s mother, explained that Keegan had no hip or fibula on her right side, placing her in the S9 category of the disabled swimming classifications, the second least severe, with S1 being the most severe. Michele said Keegan had been swimming and dancing since she was a child.

“I never worried about her. If there was something she wanted to do, she would do it,” Michele said. “I always knew what she was capable of. I am her biggest supporter, but one of the people who will push her the most.

Her main concern for her daughter, Michele said, was the mental balance between being an Olympian athlete, traveling the world and competing, and being a teenager planning to go to college.

“It’s hard as an adult to see how she has to balance being an elite athlete and being 16,” Michele said. “There’s so much about her. An athlete, a child and someone trying to blaze the Paralympic path.

Keegan explained what it was like to be an official record holder.

“It’s amazing. I feel good that I was able to break that,” Keegan said. “It’s something not many people do, I’m just glad I was able to get to this level.”

Steve pointed out that Keegan is the only Paralympian to come out of the RecPlex and was the youngest member of Tokyo’s swim team. Holding a record, with his name on the Team USA website, was something special, Steve said.

“We’re used to seeing others, but this was his first chance to put his name in the record books,” Steve said.

Keegan recently reached a verbal agreement to attend Northern Arizona University, where she will go to exercise science and then physical therapy. Of course, she plans to continue swimming in college.