Mercedes sets fine example at Pacific School Games
MERCEDES Siganto's passion for the pool has manifest itself in three gold medals at the Pacific School Games in Adelaide.
The Waterworx swimmer, who competes despite an undiagnosed muscular disease which limits her ability to kick, took out the multiclass 50m and 100m breaststroke at the South Australia Aquatic Centre.
The 11-year-old was also part of the PSG record-breaking 10-12 years 4x50m Queensland medley relay team.
Mercedes swims under the SB9 classification, defined by World Para Swimming as competing with "minimal physical impairments, including the loss of one hand or movement restriction in one hip joint.”
Mercedes' coach at Waterworx, Paul Sansby, said her work ethic in the pool regularly put the rest of his swimmers on notice.
"We don't treat any of our multi-class kids any different, they have to fit in with our squad,” Sansby said. "They're cut no slack, and treated the same as anyone else. We find being inclusive of those athletes, no one will take any notice so long as they're giving 100% like everyone else.
"The kids soon realise, 'Oh yeah she's here 10 times a week, she's obviously as silly as we are'.”
Mercedes' program is altered slightly by Sansby to accommodate her struggles with the breaststroke kick.
But she more than makes up for it in other areas.
"Merc has been with me now for three or four years,” Sansby said.
"She loves it, but we do have to be a little careful. We work a lot on her breaststroke pull - and it's very impressive - because we have to keep the kick to a limited amount due to her knees.”
The Waterworx instructor said Mercedes' achievements in the pool in Adelaide were testament to her love for swimming and no-excuses attitude to training.
Her efforts in the pool despite the physical hurdles have laid a blueprint which the sport's governing body hopes can become more commonplace across Australia.
"She loves swimming, doing gymnastics and all those things despite the concerns,” Sansby said.
"It's been brilliant for her, because the swimming keeps her mobile. The water is very good for range of movement.
"There's a big push at the moment by Australian Swimming to get more kids like Mercedes involved.”