As a young child and swimmer, Community Christian Academy senior John Carter Chappell took some inspiration from Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps to push himself and do his best.
“If I’m having a bad day, just getting in the water makes me feel better,” he said. “You can take out any anger or whatever just out on the water. You can take the aggression out. I like being in the water. It makes me feel just free.”
The 18-year-old senior began swimming competitively at the age of 8, as part of the Paducah Swim Team. He’s swam varsity since seventh grade for the school’s team. He’s taken part in many competitions and picked up medals along the way, including at regional championships.
“One of my favorite training trips was whenever we went to Colorado Springs (Colorado) to the Olympic Training Center and trained there for a week,” Chappell said. “That was probably my favorite swimming experience ever because I saw a couple of legends that were practicing there like Nathan Adrian and Elizabeth Beisel.”
Through swimming, Chappell has also met Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, back when Lochte came and spoke to the Paducah Swim Team about 10 years ago. Chappell describes swimming as a team and individual sport “all in one.”
“Like, you get the team aspect, but it’s really on you to do good for you, honestly,” he said. “In the race, unless it’s like a relay, everything’s on you.”
Competitive swimming has lots of physical and mental challenges, and it’s technical. He described his best events as being the breaststroke and individual medley. Individual medley, or IM, has butterfly stroke, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle in one race. The fly or, butterfly, is particularly “tiring” for him.
“It’s given me a lot of discipline,” he said, on the sport.
“It’s given me time management. Time management is getting my homework done on a certain time. It gives me a great schedule of when to do things. It disciplines you to getting in the water, and discipline to like — in everyday life — just get your work done.”
Chappell, son of Amanda and Kevin Chappell of Symsonia, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Every Tuesday, The Sun publishes profile stories on area high school seniors chosen from a group of nominees for Teen of the Week recognition. Around the end of the school year, a committee names one of these students as Teen of the Year, which carries a $5,000 scholarship. Another student will receive the Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
Chappell has earned a 3.82 cumulative GPA at Community Christian Academy. Outside of competitive swimming, he’s also a member of National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. His other activities include two years on the school’s archery team and three years on the basketball team.
“It’s a great experience,” Chappell said about the school. “It’s honestly like a family because, you know, there’s not that many people there, so you get to know everyone pretty well. You can talk to anyone there.”
Chappell will miss the school, but he wants to graduate and get out on his own, and go to college. He’s planning to attend either Harding University, a private Christian university in Searcy, Arkansas, or Murray State University, which is closer to home. He currently looks to pursue a business degree.
“I was planning on architecture, but I’ve kind of had a change of plans,” he added. “I really like math and I’m good at it. I’m in the business class right now at CCA and I’m doing really well in it. We also have a family business (in insurance) and I’m kind of looking into that.”
By: Kelly Farrell