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"Crucial to our team"; Wellesley swimmer Lilly Kahrl beats her own records as she deals with rare disorder

Wellesley swimmer beats her own records as she deals with rare disorder
Wellesley swimmer beats her own records as she deals with rare disorder 03:03

WELLESLEY: It's the type of team spirit every coach and school would love to have. Much of the celebration is based on one particular player who's life's journey has defied the odds. 

"She's far exceeded the expectation of what we would ever dreamed that she would do," said Head Swimming and Diving Coach at Wellesley High School Doug Curtain.

Coach Curtain is talking about 18-year-old Lilly Kahrl. Lily has a very rare genetic disorder called STXBP1, that affects her cognitively and physically. 

"When she was a lot younger the doctors didn't think she would even be able to walk. Now seeing her swimming a full fifty it's like she can do anything," said co-captain Lindsay Youngren.

This is Lilly's first year swimming. She races the 50 meter free style for the team.

"I love it," Lilly said.  

Lilly Karhl smiling during a swim meet.

The girls swimming team is dominating the sport. They have won 75 consecutive swim meets and three state championships in the last four years. But they couldn't have done it without Lilly's contagious energy. 

"Lilly is crucial to our team. When she walk onto the pool deck it's like her smile lights up, like look at it right now, she lights up every room that she's in and her role on this team has been crucial to building team spirit, this year," said co-captain Isabael McKay.

Lilly Kahrl surrounded by her teammates. CBS Boston

Lily embraces her team with love, and they return it ten-fold.

"We help her with her cap but she puts her own goggles on by herself," said teammate Evie Murillo. 

Lilly says she is even breaking her own records.

"I broke my own record," Lilly said.

"She is, continues to get the best times all season," said McKay.

Even opposing teams can't help but join in on her achievements, and her infectious energy.

"Everyone wants her to finish the race best she can. You can feel the energy. It's the highlight of every meet. It's the sportsmanship and pride and we want to better for ourselves too," said McKay.

The Wellesley swim team cheering on Lilly.

The team also shows their love for their teammate in any way possible. They have "Team Lilly" t-shirts. Despite their success as a team, they all agree what Lilly has taught them is far more valuable as student athletes.

"She's teaching us to have open minds and compassion and empathy for everyone. Also to have positivity" said McKay.

"You won't remember what time you got at a certain meet. But you will remember that day Lilly came to and gave you a hug or a high five, that made you feel better because she was so excited to see you," continued Coach Curtain, "and learning how to have those relationships are some of the most invaluable lessons you can teach through school"

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