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Cascade High School swimmer with Down syndrome makes a splash, beats personal best record

Aurora Ellis
Posted at 7:07 AM, Jan 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-12 07:07:52-05

CLAYTON — One Cascade High School student’s hard work and practice in the pool is proving you can accomplish any goal you set your mind to.

That student is Aurora Ellis.

The 19-year-old is a swimmer, a cheerleader and she’s even been known to lift a few weights.

Aurora also has Down syndrome.

Mom Kori Ellis says the Cadets swim family has welcomed her daughter with open arms.

“They’ve all taken her in. Haven’t even hesitated they just say ‘yes! Come on let’s do this,'" Ellis said.

Aurora started swimming in middle school.

“When she first started, it was a lot of challenge just to try to get her to complete a 25 on her own," coach and former teacher Julie Southwood said.

Southwood says Aurora’s come a long way since then.

“I’ve seen her open up more, drop her she’ll, interacting with the kids more," Southwood said.

Season after season, Aurora’s goal was to break a minute in the 50 free.

But no matter how hard she tried, she always managed to come up just a few seconds short.

“We just pounded the turns and getting that left— we can’t always get that left arm out of the water and so I was constantly like ‘Aurora’ we gotta get the arms out. We gotta have long arms,'" coach Amy Phipps said.

But at last week’s meet, she smashed that time in 57.93 seconds.

Ellis says she’s grateful for the Mill Creek Community School Corporation’s support over the years.

“There’s a lot of emotions that go into it. When she was born, her dad and I. The doctors come in and they tell you everything that can go wrong and things that she couldn’t do. To get to this point, the journey that she’s taken it’s just amazing," Ellis said.

After graduation, Aurora will be coming back to Cascade for the THRIVE program, which helps students post-grad develop life skills.

She can continue on with her schooling there until she’s 22 years old.