Ella Jones’s selection to represent Australia at the World Para-swimming Championships after only three years as a swimmer is evidence of her extraordinary persistence.
It’s given her wisdom beyond her 18 years.
"You definitely lose friends, she says, ‘but the ones that you lose are the ones you don’t mind losing. I realise now that they weren’t friends anyway. You have to grow up really quickly, but it's totally worth it."
Her drive is extraordinary.
Her coach Nick said, "Of every swimmer I’ve had, there’s none that wants to give more time and effort than Ella. I’ve seen her lie on the edge of the pool, shaking like a leaf, not able to move."
Ella is one of triplets with Daniel and Georgia, and also has an older brother, Joshua. The family is sporty. Mum Sharon and Dad Chris were keen netball and soccer players, and her siblings have followed in their footsteps. They’re close-knit and like to get together with their extended family.
"We don‘t have to do anything big, as long as we’re together," she said.
"We’re all a little bit crazy and so it’s a lot of fun."
Her family never treated her differently because of her cerebral palsy, for which she is hugely grateful.
"They’ll have a joke about it, and that’s really helped me to be okay with it and take the piss out of myself."
Early childhood was tough at times. Her mum would stretch Ella’s legs each morning so that she could manage to get out of bed and get ready for school. Teachers aids would help her move around, but this didn’t stop her being shoved down the stairs on one occasion. Girls didn’t want to play with her because they thought her cerebral palsy was contagious.
"I didn’t have my own understanding of how CP affected my body, so how could I explain that to another kid? I thought you can’t catch CP. If that was the case my brother and sister would have it right now. I was obviously different and got picked on a bit."