WHEN Ashley-Kate Schlenner was born, doctors told her mother they did not expect her to live very long.
Born with Down's syndrome and leaking heart valves, doctors feared the worst.
But now, at 21 years old, Miss Schlenner has not only proved those doctors wrong, but she has also lived a happy and healthy life, which her mother credits to her love of swimming.
Barbara Schlenner, Ashley-Kate's mother, said it was her love and dedication to swimming that has helped her be selected to represent Australia at the upcoming Special Olympics Asia Pacific Regional Games, which will be held in Newcastle this December.
"Ashley-Kate is a fantastic swimmer," she said. "She is very dedicated and motivated.
"She loves swimming more than anything.
"And she is just thrilled at the idea of representing Australia in the first ever Special Olympics Asia Pacific Regional Games.
"As am I - I am just so proud of her for never giving up."
Miss Schlenner was selected to be a part of the Australian swimming team after winning three gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the recent Centenary Games in Canberra.
Her coach, Craig Tobin, said swimming had greatly improved Ashley-Kate's life.
"By being involved in swimming, it has helped Ashley-Kate become more confident and improve her self-esteem," he said.
"She is always happy to come to training and has been a delight to coach.
"She is very talented and I believe she will go far in her swimming career."