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June 19. 2012 10:55PM

Exeter teen breaks world records at U.S. Paralympics Swimming Trials


Exeter's Victoria Arlen, 17, broke a pair of world records recently at the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Trials in North Dakota. (COURTESY)


Exeter’s Victoria Arlen, 17, broke a pair of world records recently at the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Trials in North Dakota. (COURTESY)

Victoria Arlen is an inspiration.

After a rare neurological condition led to a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed, the 17-year-old from Exeter broke two world swimming records, in the 100 and 400 freestyle events, and has booked her ticket to London for this summer's Paralympic Games.

Arlen was dominant at this past weekend's U.S. Paralympics Swimming Trials in Bismarck, N.D., and her time of 1:14.74 in the 100 smashed the previous record of 1:15.97 set in 2010 by Eleanor Simmonds.

The road has been a tough one for Arlen, who became paralyzed when she was 11 years old and resumed her swimming career only a year-and-a-half ago after complications from her condition left her in a vegetative state for three years.

“I always felt that I had a lot to live for, that's what kept me going,” said Arlen. “I was always just determined to live. I had a really good support system, especially my Mom and my Dad.”

Arlen had been an athlete and a swimmer prior to her injury and feels fortunate that she has the opportunity to once again get in the pool.

After making the national cut times in September 2011, the swimmer continued to get stronger at several meets over the winter that led to her impressive showing in North Dakota.

The Paralympics take place at the end of the summer, from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9, pending approval from the USOC. Arlen is hoping to compete in all four of her events, which also include the 100 breaststroke and 50 freestyle.

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Pat DeCola may be reached at pdecola@unionleader.com.


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