Kaylee Williams’ Legacy Continues From the Makos Swim Team to the American Athletic Conference.

by | Jun 2023

AS A native of Manchester, Milligan junior Kaylee Williams knew she wanted to stay close to home after high school. Her passion for swimming drove her towards Milligan University, home of the Buffalo, in Johnson City, where she received a great scholarship offer that she couldn’t resist. 

Fast forward to her junior year of college, and the exercise science major has already broken numerous records on the Milligan Swim Team and the American Athletic Conference. It’s like witnessing a triumph of athletic prowess both in and out of the water, unleashing a masterpiece of skill and determination. 

Williams has been swimming ever since she was a child, but it wasn’t until high school that her true love for the sport took shape. She credits her skill set, discipline, and leadership abilities to the Manchester Makos Swim Team, the competitive team she was on for 12 years, and coach Shawn Daniels, who started it all. 

For Williams, the Manchester Makos is more than just a swim team. It’s an inspiring relationship where growth and mentorship are evident in every practice and encounter. 

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

Through her experience as a competitive swimmer and on the Makos Swim Team, she learned the importance of a strong team dynamic and critical leadership skills. Williams said the team allows her and many others to become the best they can be. 

“Everyone is included in everything, and the older kids are always trying to help out the little kids, especially at swim meets and during summer league when the older kids get assigned a little kid to help with.” 

Williams’ journey as a competitive swimmer hasn’t been easy. It takes perseverance, grit, and determination to achieve greatness in an individual sport like swimming. Every training day presents challenges, but with coach Shawn’s outstanding coaching and mentoring abilities, Williams has learned to embody self-discipline and have fun. 

She said, “Shawn is an amazing coach. She definitely taught me self-discipline a lot because I decided to swim in college late in my life. So when I decided that, I was really becoming self-disciplined in swimming, and she started pouring into me.” 

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

She continued, “The one thing I learned the most was self-discipline. That’s what it takes to keep swimming. And also, to have fun.”

As a swimmer with a background in a more group-oriented environment, she initially struggled to find her place on the team. But with her unwavering faith and a great team dynamic at Milligan, Williams found her stride and has been thriving ever since.

Williams said God had been a constant source of strength, guiding her through each challenge one step at a time. She also said her parents have always been there to help her navigate life’s challenges. 

She came a long way from her first year at college, surrounded by supportive teammates and coaches who have all been instrumental in her growth. 

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

“I met some amazing people my second year, and they’re still great friends of mine. So they have impacted me a lot, and that has helped me a lot along the way. The coach is great. He’s done so many amazing things for the program. We have two great assistant coaches as well, and they also do amazing. And the team environment is very competitive,” she said. 

“We have a great strong team dynamic that I didn’t see during my first year at Milligan. We’ve definitely grown, and we’ve all bonded together. And it’s amazing to see that growth.” 

With one eye on the pool and another on the future, Williams plans to take her passion for health and wellness to another level, pursuing occupational therapy in graduate school.

She said, “That will be one of my greatest achievements. That one thing that I also had a lot of struggle with was choosing what I wanted to do, but that will probably be one of my favorite achievements because honestly, I never thought I would be where I’m at right now.” 

As Williams continues her journey toward becoming the next generation’s front-runner, she takes the valuable lessons she learned from her parents and church family, the Manchester Makos team, and her outstanding coach, Shawn Daniels. GN 

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