Cali Prochaska makes heads turn in the pool.
But not for the reason you might think.
The 16-year-old Blackhawk, Summit City Aquatic and Snider swimmer earned her way to Lima, Peru, to participate in the 2019 Parpan American Games from Aug. 25 to 31.
“It means a lot,” Prochaska said. “It's cool to go to a bigger meet and be international. This is my first real time out of the country.”
Prochaska was born with Proximal femoral focal deficiency. She was born without a left femur and wears a prosthetic leg.
But that hasn't stopped her form being a demon in the local swim scene. Picking up swimming after having a major leg surgery in 2008 when she was 5 years old, Prochaska has made a statement over the last decade that swimming is for everyone.
She will participate in the City Swim Meet this weekend at the Helen P. Brown Natatorium.
“I think it's good for other kids to see that I'm not that different,” she said. “You're always told don't ask questions don't stare at people that are different, but I don't mind questions, so I think it's a good thing for people to see that we're all just equal and here.”
Blackhawk coach Stephanie Jamison sees Prochaska as any other swimmer.
“We all treat her the same. Nobody goes out of their way to treat her any differently, and Cali doesn't like to be treated any differently, so it makes it easy to just incorporate her like I do with everybody else,” Jamison said.
Prochaska has been with Blackhawk since 2013. In 2016 she was introduced to Paralympic swimming.
“I thought it was cool and something new that I hadn't done yet,” she said.
While Prochaska is more than comfortable competing – and beating – swimmers in the area, she said it's nice to see others with disabilities in the water.
“You can't always see by looking at someone what it is,” she said.
At the 2019 World Para Swimming World Series in Indianapolis in April, Prochaska made the time cut she needed to compete for Team USA.
“I can't even put into words how excited I am for her,” Jamison said. “It's just an amazing feeling knowing I helped her get to where she is and the fact that I get to experience this with her as just been amazing.”
Prochaska will swim the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke. She'll will be in Peru two weeks.
“I want to go fast,” she said. “The whole games experience when you stay with the team, I think that's going to be fun.”
Before that, Prochaska will take part in her seventh City Swim Meet.
With Paralympic swimming meets only a few times a year, she's more than comfortable competing against other local talent.
“I've just been raised to do whatever I feel like and not really care about what other people think,” she said.
Jamison said Prochaska's one of the hardest workers she's ever coached.
“She has that drive you can't teach people; you have to have it from within. She has goals in mind and she's willing to put in the work for them.”
The Snider junior has another goal in mind – being a collegiate swimmer.
“I just don't want to stop swimming,” she said.