NH swimmer prepares for Paralympics in London

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June 22, 2012, 8:09 pm

(NECN: Lauren Collins, Exeter, NH) - When Victoria Arlen was a little girl, she wanted to be an Olympic swimmer.  

"Little by little I'm kind of realizing, 'Wow this is actually happening!' I'm so excited," she said.

She's reached her goal, though not in a way anyone could ever have imagined.

Victoria will represent the United States at the Paralympic Games in London and she broke two world records to get there: the 100 and 400 meter freestyles

"This was my first really big, high-profile meet and I was so intimidated and so nervous," said Victoria.

Probably because Victoria only began training in earnest last fall. The Exeter, N.H. woman is a lifelong swimmer, sidelined at age 11 by transverse meylitis, a rare neurological disorder that damages the spinal cord.

"I succumbed to a vegetative state for three years and I couldn't walk, talk, eat, move or communicate and I was told I wasn't gonna make it," she said.  

Victoria has no feeling from her belly button down. Her family was quick to get her back in the pool and back to school. Despite missing five years, Victoria will graduate next year, on time, alongside her triplet brothers, as a member of the national honor society.  

She's also an actress, model, and motivational speaker. Swimming, she says, gives her the confidence that her paralysis can't stop her.  

"I've been given a second chance at life so that opened my eyes to not take anything for granted and just live each day to the fullest 'cause you never know when it's your last," said Victoria.

The Paralympic Games get underway August 29.

Tags: new hampshire, London, Lauren Collins, Exeter, swimmer, paralysis, Victoria Arlen, Paralympic Games, 100 meter freestyle, 400 meter freestyle, transverse meylitis
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