Written by By Camille Bates, CNN
There’s no doubt Mallory Weggemann takes swimming seriously — just ask her.
Having competed in the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, the 27-year-old has been involved in a number of swimming events around the world in the past year, from the national championships to the world championships.
“Paralympic sport is incredible,” Weggemann told CNN. “I don’t regret the fact that I did it, I really love it, and all of my training is really to make sure I can return to swimming to be the best I can be.
“Swimming really saved my life — it’s changed my way of life.”
Weggemann, who has cerebral palsy, started swimming at the age of eight and is now one of the best swimmer in the world, winning five gold medals at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
In September she’ll be the sole swimmer competing at the London International Swimming Championships, held in London, which gives swimmers one final chance to qualify for the World Championships in Italy in October.
“A lot of great athletes have gone through here and won gold medals. In Rio I was really impressed with the way I swam, so I’m going to use that to move forward this year,” she said.
“One of the world’s best swimmers is going to be in London, which should be a great experience. The quadriplegic all-American team is going to be coming here to compete as well.”
A 2015 documentary about Weggemann, “Growing Fast,” made international headlines and established her as an inspiration for others with disabilities.
The film showed her swimming in her native West Virginia before gaining thousands of followers on social media.
“The film is more for people who aren’t Paralympic athletes but have always watched the Olympics or Paralympics — it’s a real lens into their lives,” Weggemann said.
After her emergence in the media in 2015, Weggemann was invited to appear on television shows and talk to celebrities like Tom Cruise.
“It’s insane the kind of people you meet when you go out of the pool,” she said. “It’s not really everyday you get to be on TV or have meetings with famous people. I never realized how big the sport had grown. It’s an amazing and exciting experience.”
One thing she hopes to achieve when she competes at the London championships is qualifying for the World Championships.
“But I also want to just enjoy it and do something really memorable for me.”