Para-swimmer dreams big
A decade ago, Nia Wallace’s life was changed when she was hit by a car driven by a learner driver. She hasn’t let that hold her back.
The now 14-year-old is well through her first year of high school and has been named paraswimmer of the year at her local swimming club.
Nia’s mum Priscilla Wallace said it had been a special year.
‘‘Nia started at Long Bay College in February. It kind of marked 10 years since Nia’s accident, so it was a little bit sad, not that we dwell on it. She decided then she wanted to get more into swimming, so that is the focus or goal,’’ Wallace said.
Nia has been swimming since she was 7, after her physio suggested it as a form of exercise. She now swims four mornings a week with Coast Swim Club.
In February 2007, Nia, then 3, was standing by the letterbox of her Torbay home with friends and family. They were excited to see a family friend on her first day delivering the local paper.
‘‘She’d put one in our box and we went out to say ‘hooray’. A teenage boy lost control of his car and because Nia was so young she didn’t know to get out of the way,’’ Wallace said.
The 15-year-old learner driver crashed through a gap between a fence and tree and hit Nia.
The toddler suffered head and internal injuries, underwent brain surgery and was in an induced coma.
Her long recovery involved weekly appointments in speech therapy, occupational therapy, physio, chiropractors and more.
‘‘My whole week was appointments,’’ Nia said.
‘‘She has come a very long way,’’ Wallace added.
Nia’s name is the first on the Coast Swim Club’s para-swimmer of the year trophy, as this is the first year it’s been awarded.
The teenager has big aspirations and hopes to one day reach the Paralympics. She’s been named a prospect for the team. From there, swimmers progress to emerging and then podium when they reach the Paralympics.
When asked if she looks up to any swimmers, Nia is quick to rattle several off: Sophie Pascoe, Rebecca Dubber, Mary Fisher.
Nia loves swimming and attended a national training camp earlier in the year.
She has recently been classed as an S7 swimmer, meaning a swimmer with use of their arms and trunk, but with limited leg function. Nia’s accident affects the use of her right leg and she can only kick with her left.
Nia Wallace loves to swim and hopes to one day make it to the Paralympics. Her favourite stroke is backstroke, but it keeps changing.