Olympic Dreams for the “Games Wide Open” in Paris


This Month

This Month:

Share This Story:

Share This Story:

I never imagined that having visual impairment would get me to the Paralympics but here we are.” When some may have faltered, Olivia Chambers kept her eye on the gold with Olympic aspirations. “It’s just crazy that I’m living my dream – j’adore nager.”

Olivia’s adoration of, and dedication to, swimming is impressive. She doesn’t remember a time before it. “The pool is where I have fun and where I’m the happiest.” She accomplished her first state record at age seven in the 500-yard freestyle and never looked back. Her perspective, “it’s a challenge and it’s exciting” has helped her navigate a medical mystery with grace and gratitude.

After swimming with Mount St. Mary Academy and the Arkansas Dolphins, Olivia continued her academic and athletic pursuits at University of Northen Iowa. “I was reading a book and all of a sudden, I just couldn’t see the words anymore.” Doctors assured her it was a normal accommodative spasm and prescribed medication. Her sight continued to deteriorate, and she was diagnosed with multiple mitochondrial gene deletion syndrome. Doctors still are not certain what is the cause of her vision problems.

At the University of Northern Iowa, Olivia took an interest in para swimming and continues her journey to compete as an Olympian. She earned six medals at six events during the 2023 Para Swimming World Championships in England and prepares to qualify for the Paralympic Games in Paris later this summer. “Now, with para swimming there’s hope and I know something good can come from this.” As she accumulates more personal records, despite her impairment, her confidence is fierce. “We all fight for the same spots – we are all elite athletes, and we all earn a right to be there.” Touted as “Games Wide Open” – Paris plans games and festivities that are inclusive + spectacular. Olivia reminds us “nothing is impossible.”


Inviting Arkansas in Your Inbox

Sign-up for our newsletter today!