DREAM RUN: Waterworx Swimming Club competitor Mercedes Siganto continued her medal-winning season at the national age championships.
DREAM RUN: Waterworx Swimming Club competitor Mercedes Siganto continued her medal-winning season at the national age championships.

Golden girl Mercedes never ceases to amaze

SWIMMING: After suffering a dislocated knee just two weeks prior to the biggest meet of her life, Ipswich swimmer Merecedes Siganto thought she would be unable take her place at the Australian Age National Championships.

But after spending five days out of the pool with the offending joint in a brace and returning to full fitness only two days before racing, the remarkably strong-willed multi-class athlete not only made it to the starting blocks, she excelled.

The 13-year-old, who has a history of defying the odds, did it again, miraculously recovering to clinch gold in the 100m and silver in the 50m breastroke events.

Though outside her best times, Mercedes was elated to have been crowned national champion given the earlier setback.

"It feels pretty good,” she said.

"It does mean a lot.

"I've worked really hard and with the injury two weeks before I wasn't sure if I would be able to swim at all.

"I was pretty happy with my times considering the injury.

"It was just lucky that I was able to swim.”

Having entered the Pan Pacific Games trials in July last year and claimed the 50m and 100m breastroke double at the recent state championships, it was not Mercedes first major carnival. However, she said it was a great experience and an opportunity to witness some high quality swimmers in action.

The Waterworx Swimming Club representative has an undiagnosed muscle disease which causes her to become fatigued and suffer regular dislocations.

At eight years of age, she was confined to a wheelchair and spent many months in hospital rehabilitating and learning to walk again.

Life has been a constant fight for this resilient champion and mother Tania Siganto never ceases to be amazed.

"Mercedes is constantly overcoming adversities,” she said.

"She really does just blow me away every day.

"Just when you think she can't cope with any more, she pulls through and comes out shining.

"She really is such a strong and inspirational girl. She just astounds me all of the time.”

Mercedes dived back into training yesterday morning to prepare for the School Sport National Championships in late July.

In the future, she is targeting the 2024 Paris Paralympics, where she hopes to replicate the achievements of her hero Aussie multi-class star Paige Leonhardt.

Tom Bushnell