BYRON — Rochelle Township High School student-athlete Bryn Kissack has been swimming since she was 18 months old. The freedom she feels while in the water is one of the many things she enjoys most about the sport, which she has competed in as a member of the Rochelle Rays with the Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District for the last several years.
“I’ve always had a thing for the water,” Kissack said. “I can move around more freely in the water and I feel like a free bird. I enjoy being in the water and doing what I can to be a better swimmer. It’s fun to have the ability to get out of my chair, get in the water, be free and have fun.”
On Saturday, Nov. 5, Kissack represented RTHS at an IHSA-sanctioned swim meet for the first time, racing at the IHSA Girls Swimming & Diving Sectional at Byron High School. The Lady Hub sophomore, who was diagnosed with spina bifida when she was young, completed three individual events in the athletes with disabilities division including the 50-yard freestyle (1:43.33), the 100-yard freestyle (3:44.38) and the 100-yard breaststroke (5:23.14).
“It was a great experience and it felt great to represent RTHS,” Kissack said. “I had a blast and it was so much fun. It wasn’t an environment I hadn’t experienced before and my main goal was to have a lot of fun. I thought I did my best and it was nice that I was the only one in each of my events because I was racing against time and time was my worst enemy during the meet.”
Kissack qualified in all three events for the IHSA State Championship meet at Hinsdale Central, but did not attend the state meet this year. Despite her absence, Kissack said she intends to continue swimming throughout her high school years, both with the Rochelle Rays and as a student-athlete at RTHS. Kissack, who said the freestyle and the breaststroke are her two favorite events to participate in, said her goals for the future include medaling at a state meet.
“I want to try and earn a medal because I know I can do it,” Kissack said. “I know I’m strong enough to physically move my body and reach the finish line with a really good time.”
Kissack is one of three student-athletes at RTHS who have swam in the athletes with disabilities division over the last several years. Former Lady Hub student-athletes Aubrey Headon and Alli Cole each competed at the IHSA State Championship three times in their respective careers.