DALGETY BAY swimmer Cara Smyth says she is determined to achieve her Paralympic dream – little more than a year after being unable to walk.

The 17-year-old, who is a member of Carnegie Swimming Club, is back competing in the pool after undergoing an operation last March to lengthen her left leg, which meant she couldn't walk for three-and-a-half months.

The inspirational Fife College student, who underwent a gruelling operation at the age of seven having been born with a serious spinal malfunction that affected her movement severely since birth, won five medals at November's Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) Junior Championships for Physically Disabled and Sensory Impaired Swimmers, before winning a 100 metres breaststroke silver at the SDS Short Course National Performance Swim Championships.

Cara, who also coaches with Carnegie and Disability Sport Fife (DSF), was named as Dunfermline and West Fife Sports Council's Youth Coach of the Year at their annual awards ceremony in February, where she told Press Sport about her Paralympic hopes.

She hoped to compete in the British Para-Swimming International Meet, which begins today (Thursday), and explained: "I did a competition in Manchester, the British Para-Swimming Championships, in December and that was quite good.

"I wasn't looking for medals or times, I was just looking to get back in the water to get some times and see where I was at. My next meet I'm looking to is the British Para-International meet, which is in April, so that's what I'm aiming for.

"The British Summer Champs is in July, and then there's some Scottish stuff as well. My ultimate goal is medalling at the Paralympics; I've got a little bit to go but that's my ultimate dream!"

Reflecting on her operation, she continued: "I had an operation to lengthen my left leg so I wasn't able to walk for three-and-a-half months, which was quite a big ask when I'm somebody who's normally training 10 hours a week!

"All of the care I received was amazing and I think swimming actually helped my recovery. Basically, all I had to do was wait until my scars had healed, and I was able to get back in the pool and do water therapy.

"Swimming's definitely helped me progress and moving to Carnegie Swimming Club has been a big thing. They've just helped me all the way, which is amazing, and I can’t thank them enough."

The long-course British Para-Swimming International Meet, which runs until Sunday, takes place at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre in Glasgow.