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Otters Swim Athlete Excels at USA Paralympic Trials

By David Cameron, YWCA Minneapolis Otters Swim Coach
June 30, 2016
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While much of YWCA Minneapolis’ fitness and mission work is focused in Minnesota, sometimes its influence is demonstrated on a national stage. This week, 19-year-old Natalie Sims is representing the YWCA Minneapolis’ youth swim team, the Otters, at the 2016 US Paralympic Team Trials in Charlotte, NC.

Natalie has been on the Otters swim team for over four and a half years. She balances year-round swimming with YWCA Minneapolis Otters and high school swim training and competition for Benilde-St. Margaret and Edina High Schools. This means she competes in high school, club and Paralympic meets throughout the year.

Paralympic competition is sorted into classifications that reflect the level of able-bodiedness of the athlete in physical and technical tests. Natalie is categorized in the S9 division, as she is limb-deficient in her right forearm. She still swims faster than most athletes on the Otters swim team, and has met National “A” cuts with USA Swimming and the Emerging Athlete team cuts for US Paralympics. This means she’s been invited to camps at the US Olympic Training center and also competed for Team USA at last summer’s Toronto Para Pan-am Games.

Swims at Trials are done in a preliminary/finals format. Each day, Natalie swims her events in the morning to qualify for evening finals. Today, she swam the 400 meter freestyle, and her time of 5:03.48 was the fastest S9 swim, ranking her in the top 8 in the world this year. We hope to see an even better swim this evening to help her make her case for inclusion on Team USA for the Rio Paralympics!

Natalie swims the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle on Friday, July 1, and the 100 freestyle on Saturday, July 2. The team selections will be announced on Sunday, July 3.

You can follow Natalie through trials with live results at or her fan page at