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Event Details

Porch Signing: McKenzie Coan, BREAKING FREE

The Ivy is delighted to host a book signing with McKenzie Coan, author of Breaking Free: Shattering Expectations and Thriving With Ambition in Pursuit of Gold! The signing and meet-and-greet will take place on the Ivy's front porch from 1-3PM.


Click here to reserve your copy of Breaking Free, or purchase one at the signing!


McKenzie Coan is a professional swimmer, public speaker, disability advocate, and author.

She first took to the water for aqua therapy to help with her osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease). But it wasn’t long after her brothers joined a swim team that she declared her days in the "baby pool" over. McKenzie joined the team, too, and she began Paralympic swimming just a few years later, at the age of 8. She loved growing up on the pool deck and, as a young swimmer, she could often be found racing around the blocks in her pink wheelchair or painting her nails while listening to Hannah Montana with her friends before a big race.

She made her first U.S. Paralympic National Team at 15 in 2012 and has been a part of Team USA every year since. She competed in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, and in 2016, she won four medals in Rio de Janeiro, including three gold. At the 2020 Tokyo Games, she defended her title from Rio in the 400-meter freestyle and took second in the 100 free. She is a six-time World Champion and two-time world record holder in the category S7 800-meter and 1500-meter freestyles. McKenzie is also an Adidas-sponsored athlete, one of the first with a physical disability to be fully sponsored by the brand.

McKenzie published her first book, Breaking Free – Shattering Expectations and Thriving with Ambition in Pursuit of Gold, in 2021. The memoir explains why she believes her genetic condition, the result of a spontaneous mutation, happened for her, not to her, and how she has lived an unexpectedly full life while reaching the top of her sport.

Outside of the water, McKenzie thrives on connecting with others by sharing her story through public-speaking engagements and through Kenzie Kares, an organization she founded as a teenager to help bring hope and happiness to children who are hospitalized. She first discovered her love of public speaking as a Girl Scout, finding the same adrenaline rush on stage that she craves in the pool. She credits her time as Girl Scout, too, with fostering her competitive nature – no one could outsell her during cookie season!

McKenzie is an avid Clemson University athletics fan and can be found cheering on the Tiger basketball team every chance she gets. She holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Loyola University Maryland, where she was on the school’s NCAA Div. I swim team and was a student member of the campus ADA Compliance Committee. 

She will enter law school at Rutgers in 2022, where she intends to focus on civil rights and disability advocacy, inspired by her work with Kenzie Kares to act on behalf of others with disabilities, as well as the character Elle Woods from her favorite movie, "Legally Blonde." 

McKenzie plans to train and compete while in law school, with the goal of representing Team USA at the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games. She currently lives in Baltimore and Clarkesville, Georgia.






Event Details

Saturday, November 20, 2021 - 1:00pm


The Ivy Bookshop - Front Porch, 5928 Falls Road, Baltimore, MD 21209

by Dr. Radut