Emily Beecroft was born ten weeks premature and was number three of triplets. Born with a right arm limb deficiency, no ear canal in her left ear, chronic lung disease and a mal-rotation of the bowel, Emily spent the first four months of her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit at Monash Clayton.
By the time she was five, Emily had already had 23 operations on her hand to improve functionality and several surgeries on her bowel. The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, became Emily’s second home for the first five years of her life.
Emily started swimming at the age of three in the Learn to Swim program at Morwell Leisure Centre and by 2009 Emily had started swimming with the Traralgon Swimming club. She was also already competing at a state level in athletics with able-bodied athletes, but was looking for a sport locally that was more challenging and involved people of all abilities. Emily had attempted many other sports but found that swimming had the best pathway for people with disabilities in country Victoria.
Emily is classified as an S9 swimmer which means she is a swimmer with a physical impairment. At the age of 10, Emily informed her parents that she was going to be heading to the Paralympics one day. She had been researching Paralympians and found an inspiring swimmer named Ellie Cole. Emily said she wanted to do what Ellie was doing and go to the Paralympics too. Understanding how difficult this may be, but also believing that dreams are important her parents replied with “anything’s possible!”. Emily is currently studying Year 10 at Lavalla Catholic College in Traralgon, which she attends with her sister Kaylee, whilst her other sister Maddi attends Federation Training in Morwell. Emily’s two sisters are her biggest fans and have supported Emily in many ways to achieve her dreams. Kaylee is also a swimmer at Traralgon swimming club and is currently Emily’s training partner. Emily has worked with her current coach Dean Gooch since 2012. Dean has coached Emily from her first Australian Championships. Dean will unfortunately not be going with Emily this year but liaises with the Australian team and the coaches frequently to assist with her preparation. Even though they have achieved much together, they both believe the best is still yet to come.
Over the past four years Emily has competed at the Australian Age and Australian Open Championships, in which she has won several gold medals in the Freestyle and Butterfly events. In April this year, Emily competed at the Georgina Hope Australian Age Championships winning four gold medals in the 50m Freestyle, 100m Freestyle, 100m Butterfly and 50m Butterfly events. In 2014 Emily was long listed for the Rio Development Squad and the Tokyo Development Squad with Swimming Australia. Emily has attended and participated in several camps at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and has developed some very strong friendships with other athletes of all abilities along the way. In April at the Australian Open Swimming Championships held in Adelaide, 31 swimmers were named in Australia’s team for this years Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. Of the six members of the squad selected from Victoria, Emily is the only representative from the State’s regional area, Gippsland. In May, Emily was awarded The Tim Forsyth Award for Sporting Excellence with the Gippsland Sports Academy and in June travelled with a small team of 12 that were selected to compete in Germany for an international competition in Berlin, the IDM Berlin Championships. Emily broke the world record winning a Gold in the 50m Butterfly with a new time of 31.63WR (World Record).
Emily then went on to compete in Brisbane at the Australian Grand Prix Swimming championships, followed by a camp with the Paralympic team and time trials in Cairns and in August was awarded the Gippstar of the Year award in the Open category. On August 22, Emily flew with the Paralympic swimming team to the United States of America for a 10 day staging camp in Auburn, Alabama. Then continuing on to Rio, where she will move into the Games Village ahead of the Opening Ceremony. Emily will be competing in the following event at Rio 2016 Paralympics; the 50m freestyle, 100m Freestyle, 100m Butterfly and 200IM (Individual Medley). Emily is also hoping to be selected for the relay team. Emily aims to not only do the best she can at the 2016 Paralympics but to promote that people with a disability can also contribute to society and achieve their dreams.
Emily believes she can do anything that others can do but may just do it in a different way. It’s all about what people can do, not what people can’t do. Emily has received a great deal of support already from the local community acknowledging her achievements and selection to the team including local schools, community organisations, the Traralgon Swimming Club, Latrobe City Council Lauren, Maddison Emily Kaylee and Garry celebrating the triplets 16th Birthday dinner in 2015. Traralgon coach Dean Gooch and Emily, receiving the Muticlass Swimmer of the meet Award in Jan 2016 at the Victorian State Open Swimming Championships. and other sporting clubs. Emily would like to thank the people of Gippsland for their support and encouragement and is looking forward to swimming and giving it her best in Rio.