EDINA, Minn. - For 19-year-old Natalie Sims, it's still a bit hard to believe.
“All this hard work has paid off and I am so beyond thrilled and excited to be swimming at Rio. It's still hard for me to say that,” Sims laughs.
In less than two weeks, Sims will be swimming for Team USA at this year's Paralympic Games.
The Edina High School grad was born without a right hand, but that certainly hasn't kept her out of the pool.
“I have always had a love for the water,” she says. “I always had a passion for it.”
That passion transitioned into swimming competitively just five years ago.
Now Sims is headed to Rio to compete in the same pool that Michael Phelps just won five gold medals in.
“Not only just Michael Phelps, but all those decorated athletes from around the world. It makes, not only me, but all my teammates pumped.”
Sims’ coach David Cameron has been by her side the past five years. Cameron calls their journey together “incredible.”
“She's very coachable. It's the combination every coach wants. Some natural talent, as well as the drive to take it further all the time,” Cameron says.
No matter the results in Rio, Sims says she hopes the story of her and her teammates carries a much deeper message.
“You have a disability, that doesn't mean you can't try out for something. You can do it,” she says. “If you really love what you're doing, then you should go for it.”
Sims will be competing in the 400 meter freestyle, 100 meter butterfly, 100 meter backstroke and 100 meter freestyle at the Paralympic Games.