Prep Rally

Three years after being in vegetative state, teen sets two world records in paralympic swimming

Prep Rally

Victoria Arlen's life isn't like that of most teens. Sure, she goes to school, spends most of her time outside the classroom doing homework and doing what she loves, swimming and playing hockey. Yet Arlen has to go through much more to achieve those relatively modest aims, because she is paralyzed, as she has been since she was 11 years old.

Now, just 18 months after returning to the pool following three years spent in a "vegetative state," Arlen has performed a virtual miracle: She set two paralympic swimming world records, not to mention 11 American records. It's not a stretch to say that she could become the next best thing to Michael Phelps, with more arm power and a lot more inspiration behind her.

As reported by Manchester TV network WMUR, the New Hampshire Union-Leader the SwimSwam blog and a handful of other sources, Arlen, an Exeter (N.H.) High senior, set world marks in the women's 400-meter freestyle and the 100-meter freestyle, besting British paralympic swimming phenom Eleanor Simmonds' top marks in both events.

View photo

.
Exeter senior and paralympic world record holder Victoria Arlen — New England Swimming

Exeter senior and paralympic world record holder Victoria Arlen — New England Swimming

While Arlen is receiving ample attention for her swimming exploits now, she isn't new to the pool. The teen was a swimming fanatic as a youngster before undiagnosed spinal inflammation left her completely paralyzed from the waist down and in a vegetative state for a full three years. Beginning in 2006, Arlen was in a hospital and uncommunicative, with doctors unsure about her prospects for survival. Three years later, her spinal inflammation was finally discovered and treated, with the then 14-year-old responding and regaining her bubbly personality, though not the use of her legs.

Incredibly, paralysis didn't deter her from getting right back into the sports she loves. Finally, in 2010, Arlen returned to the pool. Less than two years later, she is squarely among the best paralyzed swimmers on the planet, with a date in London at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics on Aug. 29.

That's a far cry from four years ago, when the questions facing the teen and her family were whether she could survive, not what she would pack for a national training camp in Germany and international competition in England.

"I managed to prove them all wrong because I was determined to live," Arlen told WMUR about her terrifying health issues.

"[After recovering, Arlen's mother] stopped the car and said, 'Don't you ever let anyone tell you you can't do something. If you think you can do it, you can do it.'"

It seems safe to say that Arlen is doing extraordinary things now, and she doesn't even need her legs to do them.

Want more on the best stories in high school sports? Visit RivalsHigh or connect with Prep Rally on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Minnesota hopes to get back on track vs. rival Wisconsin

      Sitting among the top teams in the Big Ten and being ranked nationally is nothing new for the Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball team. Typically, a veteran-laden team, this year is no different with four seniors starting and Wisconsin ranked No. 17 … More »

      AP - Sports - 5 minutes ago
    • Florida looks to break shooting slump vs. Vanderbilt

      Regardless of the atmosphere, the quality of the opponent or the importance of the contest, you could count on the Gators hoisting a long-range shot and seeing the scoreboard add three points to the Florida total. It was halted in Tuesday's setback … More »

      AP - Sports - 7 minutes ago
    • No. 13 Butler worries about slacking off at DePaul

      Butler might be tempted to take a breather after a bruising schedule to start the new year. The No. 13 Bulldogs (16-3, 5-2) visit Allstate Arena in suburban Chicago on Saturday to face the Blue Demons (8-11, 1-5) in the 13th meeting between the … More »

      AP - Sports - 7 minutes ago
    • No. 7 Creighton begins life after Watson, hosts Marquette

      Marquette coaches had video of 19 Creighton games from which to choose as they prepared for Saturday's Big East basketball showdown with the No. 7-ranked Bluejays. Precious few minutes of those recordings will be of use, though, after senior guard … More »

      AP - Sports - 7 minutes ago
    • Akron sets school-record 27-game home win streak

      AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- Isaiah Johnson scored 21 points and Akron remained undefeated in Mid-American Conference play, setting a school-record home win streak with a 70-63 victory over Eastern Michigan on Friday night. … More »

      AP - Sports - 9 minutes ago