The race for inclusivity: Brandrup to swim at Montevallo


Brandrup pushes to the finish during an indoor swim meet (photo by Adele Brandrup).

Marin Poleshek, Managing Editor

A decorated swimmer at both the state and national level, Adele Brandrup’s success in the sport has garnered the attention of many, ranging from local media to collegiate coaches. In fact, her streak of exceptional performances has even landed her a spot on the University of Montevallo swim team next fall.

Brandrup, though, is far from content with these accomplishments. Born deafblind, her years of experience competing in the para-athlete division have left her hungry for something more than medals or records: inclusivity.

In high school athletics, there is little interaction between athletes with and without disabilities. Instead of competing on the same teams, para-athletes are often separated from their peers, rendering them responsible for finding their coaches, competitions, and practice facilities. Brandrup, for example, swims at the Lakeshore Foundation with a few other para-swimmers from HHS.

For athletes like Brandrup, this separation significantly limits the number of athletes against which she can compete. At the state level, she must often rely on internal motivation to swim faster times rather than the pressure of other competitors.

“It’s hard to get into a team because some might not be adaptive,” she remarked, emphasizing that she wishes there were more para-swimmers able to compete at the state meet.

Brandrup poses outside the Montevallo gates on her official visit to campus (photo by Julie Brandrup).

Despite this, Brandrup has triumphed, recently committing to swim collegiately at the University of Montevallo. And, though the proximity to home and ample deaf resources certainly made it an attractive option, it was only after visiting campus that Brandrup knew it was the place for her.

“I debated for a long time about swimming in college,” she said, “but after visiting, I just knew.”

Currently, Brandrup has plans to pursue exercise science and deaf studies. As the only Alabama university to offer a degree in Deaf Education, she will indeed be in the best place to do so. Brandrup also hopes to learn more about American Sign Language, which differs from the Pidgin Signed English she is familiar with. 

Above all, Brandrup wants to continue paving a way for students like her to achieve success both academically and athletically. She highlights “self-advocacy” as her most important skill and underscores the need for students with disabilities to be assertive about their needs, especially during high school.

When it comes to sports, Brandrup urges fellow para-athletes to “not be concerned about other people.” Instead, she believes in doing one’s personal best and always striving to be a better version of oneself.

“I want to help people in the future,” she said. “And I want to swim.”