Paige creates swimming history

YOUNG Hastings swimmer Paige Leonhardt keeps racking up achievements and setting records over the course of a still very brief competitive swimming career.

Earlier this year Paige, who has family connections with the Camden Haven, received a Junior Athlete with a Disability Grant from the Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation, as well as a sponsorship from Amanzi swimwear.

Paige, who turns 13 on September 21, has an intellectual disability as a result of a severe car accident in which she suffered brain injuries.

She competes as an able bodied swimmer and a Multi Class (MC) swimmer.

"Paige is certainly a star on the rise and one to look out for in the future," says her mother Tanya.

Paige went to the 2013 McDonald's Queensland Multi Class Championships on 15 September and swam in 11 events. She received medals in all events - a total of seven gold and four silver, her mother says.

"Paige also received Queensland Champion of the meet, which was a great achievement," she says.

In both the 50m and 100m breaststroke events she won overall open age champion.

Paige is set to take on the NSW MC Championships on 26 October at Homebush. She will be attempting three Australian records at this event and currently holds two Australian records and one State record for the girls 13 years and under 200m breaststroke.

Paige was recently notified by Swimming North Coast that she holds 77 MC records - the most held by any MC swimmer on the North Coast.

What makes her achievements even more remarkable is the fact that she took up squad swimming only in March 2012.

Paige suffered some terrible injuries in a car accident in 2006 and the sport provides excellent therapy for her, her mother says.

Severe head injuries left her with benign intercranial hypertension - or excess fluid on the brain that must be removed via a spinal tap.

In addition, calcium build-up behind Paige's eyes as a result of the accident will one day rob her of her eyesight.

"It could be in five years or 10 years," Tanya says.

In the past she had problems socialising with other children and has turned to sport.

And while she has other talents - including involvement in drama, dance, softball and baseball - swimming is now her favourite.

"She just liked it," Tanya says.

"She said it's the only place where she feels like everyone else - she doesn't feel different."

Record achievements: Paige Leonhardt competing at the State Age Championships this year. Picture courtesy Nina Beilby Photography.

Record achievements: Paige Leonhardt competing at the State Age Championships this year. Picture courtesy Nina Beilby Photography.

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