For Faye Rogers, swimming has been a lifelong passion.
‘My friends from school went to swimming lessons when I was younger so that was what made me first want to go,’ she said in an interview with the University of Aberdeen last year.
‘I started going to a club at the weekends and then when I was nine I began competing.’
The sport took over her life. When she wasn’t training, she spent time volunteering at her local swimming club, working with autistic children in the pool.
In 2021, when she was 18, the Stockton-on-Tees swimmer competed in the 2021 Olympic selection trials. While she didn’t qualify for the Tokyo games, she remained hopeful.
She would be able to compete in future Olympic trials, and she was headed off to the University of Aberdeen to study biochemistry in the meantime.
But then everything changed. On the day she was supposed to move to Aberdeen for university, Rogers was involved in a car accident that would change the course of her sporting career.
Her elbow was dislocated and fractured in several places, and she severed an ulnar nerve.
She had to have surgery to reconstruct her elbow and lower arm but even after recovery, the damage to her right arm left her with a permanent impairment and her future as a swimmer looked to have been shattered.
A consultant told Rogers she wouldn’t be able to compete again and she wouldn’t be able to swim butterfly at all, which was her best stroke. She also had to relearn how to write.
‘I walked out of that meeting, walked to the car and said to my mum, “I want to swim. I’m going to swim”,’ she said.
‘It does cause me some difficulties day-to-day, but I’ve found I can adapt to pretty much anything with enough determination and make it work,’ Rogers added.
She joined her university club and started swimming again.
‘I got back into the pool and just started kicking and then about four months later someone asked me if I had thought about Para-swimming and it took off from there,’ she told BBC.
Since then, Rogers has shown that she’s one to watch. The 21-year-old set several short course S10 British records at the 2022 British Para Swimming Winter National Meet, and she picked up her first international title at the Para Swimming World championships in Manchester in September 2023.
She won gold with a personal best of a S10 100m Butterfly in 1:05:48 and claimed bronze in the S10 200m Individual Medley and the S10 400m Freestyle.
S10 is a classification for swimmers who have disabilities such as movement restriction or loss of a hand.
‘To be able to compete again is amazing,’ Rogers told the University of Aberdeen.
‘My favourite part is competing against myself, trying to beat my own personal best and seeing how much time I can drop. I can’t wait to get started.’
She will compete in the Citi Para Swimming World Series, which kicks off on Thursday at the Aberdeen Sports Village.
Later in the year, Rogers will swim at the British Championships, which are being held at the London Aquatics Centre in April.
The event will be the trials for the Paralympics, which take place in Paris from 28 August to 8 September.
‘It is cool to look and think that it was less than two years since someone told me I wouldn’t be able to race again. I am really proud of how far I have come,’ Rogers told BBC Sport.
‘This year might look and feel a bit different to what I had thought, but it doesn’t matter – I am still pretty much able to do what I want to do and the Paralympics presents a huge opportunity and I really want to go.’