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'It's you against the clock' | Queens University Paralympian ready for Tokyo Paralympics

"I really found my home in the water and found that it was a place where it was a more even playing field, my disability didn't hold me back."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Paralympian, Hannah Aspden, is ready to represent the United States for the second time at the Tokyo Paralympics

Aspden took home two bronze medals during the 2016 Rio Paralympics and is ready to secure more medals when she heads to Tokyo in August.

"We have an amazing team going, good mix of ages and events and experience levels," Aspden said. 

The Queens University student said making the Paralympics this year was especially surreal for her since the Games were postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED: Queens University swimmer earns spot on U.S. Paralympic team

"I know that was a rough time for a lot of people and something that we definitely weren't planning on," Aspden said. "Getting the chance to compete for Team USA is always such a huge honor." 

Aspden said she has been in Raleigh for the past year and a half training with the Tac Titans.

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"They have an amazing coaching staff, great supportive teammates. And it's been just a lot of fun," Aspden said. 

She said getting to train at home, surrounded by her friends and family, really makes the whole process easier. 

"I train once a day, six days a week," Aspden said. "And I'm feeling really good about where my training is right now and feeling pretty confident as we go into the next couple of weeks." 

Aspden said she began swimming at a very young age. She said she would follow her brother into the water and always wanted to do what he was doing. She would later pick up other sports like soccer and basketball, but ultimately, stuck with swimming. 

Credit: Hannah Aspden

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"I really found my home in the water and found that it was a place where it was a more even playing field," Aspden said. "You know, my disability didn't hold me back."

Aspden said she knows the Paralympics are going to be different this year due to the pandemic but said she's ready for whatever comes her way. 

"We just have to control what we can control and prepare ourselves the best we can," Aspden said. "And a lot of that comes down to being internally motivated, and being able to bring that energy out of yourself and out of your teammates." 

RELATED: Charlotte-area athletes competing in Tokyo Olympics

At the end of the day, Aspden said swimming is not about the crowd around you. 

"It's you against the clock and water is water no matter wherever you go," Aspden said. "And so all you can really do is race as hard as you can and try and bring that energy."

Aspden leaves for the Tokyo Paralympics on Aug. 13 and the competition at the Games starts on Aug. 25 and ends Sept. 3.  

Contact Meilin at mtompkins@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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