July 5, 2012
Victoria Arlen, 17, of
the YMCA of the North Shore Sharks swim team has officially earned
a place on Team USA at the 2012 London Paralympic Games after
competing at the Paralympic trials in Bismarck, North Dakota. Arlen
placed first in the 400-meter freestyle, first in the 100-meter
breaststroke, first in the 50-meter freestyle and first in the
She set two new world records in Paralympic swimming at the meet in North Dakota, with a 5:24.46 time in the 400-meter freestyle, and a 1:14.74 time in the 100-meter freestyle, which smashed the previous record of 1:15.97 set in 2010 by Eleanor Simmonds.
“I went there with no expectations but to try my best and see what happens,” said Victoria Arlen. “I also went
there with so much training under my belt that I truly felt I belonged there and was capable of swimming my best.
It turned out better than I could've imagined and now I truly know what I am capable of as a swimmer. Especially
breaking world records: never in my wildest dreams did I think I was capable of that. Thanks to the Y believing in
me, I am.”
Arlen was paralyzed after suffering complications from an undiagnosed spinal cord inflammation when she was 11
years old, leaving her completely paralyzed from the waist down and in a vegetative state for a full three years.
Beginning in 2006, she was in a hospital and uncommunicative, with doctors unsure about her prospects for
survival. Once the inflammation was discovered, Arlen responded to the treatment but did not regain the use of
“To have a swimmer make the 2012 USA Olympic team is nothing short of amazing -- Victoria represents the best
of the Sharks,” said Sharks Head Coach John Ogden. “It doesn't get much better than to having a swimmer make
the USA Paralympic team -- we are very proud of Victoria.”
“It honestly hasn't hit me yet that I made the team,” said Arlen. “I could never have done it without John (Ogden),
all of the incredible coaches at the Y and all of my supportive teammates. But I made the team and I'm so happy
and excited, I'm just enjoying this incredible ride I'm on. Training hard, eating healthy and having fun is what my
aim is. Just to be here doing what I'm doing is a blessing but all of this is a bonus,” said Arlen.