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Carthage Swimmer Without Legs Competes in the "4 States Splash" - KOAM TV 7

Carthage Swimmer Without Legs Competes in the "4 States Splash" with Paralympic Dreams

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Haven Shepherd looks like any other swimmer in the pack from the surface.

But under the water she faces adversity.

She was born with her legs and then her parents they had an affair and had her and they didn't feel like there was any hope for them to be together in a communist country in Vietnam, so they decided to commit a family suicide and they strapped bombs onto their selves and held her,” says Haven’s mother Shelly Shepherd.

Luckily 14-month-old haven made it out alive and was later adopted by her Carthage parents.

Now at age 12 she's only been swimming for two years but says it's where she feels most free.

"I don't have to wear my prosthetics because they're really heavy and they're not as comfortable. It's like having a really tight sock all day and swimming just really gives me the freeness that I really enjoy having,” says Haven.

Many of the athletes competing here are hoping to qualify for state, but for haven she has big dreams of her own.

"My goals are to be in the 2020 Olympics in China,” she says.

And Haven is very close to making the Paralympic Emerging Team

"It sounds like the age group version of the national team. They do a national travel schedule and it's pretty high level stuff," says Jasper County Killer Whales Head Coach Shawn Klosterman.

Haven says she usually is found swimming with the boys.

“"She fits right in and puts some of them to shame, sometimes,” Klosterman says.

To keep up the pace, mainly working her arms, she says she has to remember to use her core.

"I have to use most of my arms, because I actually get in trouble a lot of times, because they say haven you need to kick,” Haven says.

Although she finished sixth in her heat in the 200 meter individual medley she saved off four seconds from her personal best, a major victory.

Haven and other swimmers will be competing at the Joplin Aquatic Center throughout the weekend. Both Cunningham and Ewert Aquatic Centers are open for swimmers this weekend. Regular hours, from 1 to 6pm.

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