99. Maddy Fox

2 Dec

Young-gun, Maddy Fox is a champion swimmer and community member whose demonstrating every day that her disability doesn’t define her – while winning gold in the process.

Maddy has shown time and time again that she’s a keen sporting personality; starting out in basketball and turning her head to competitive swimming for the past 10 years.

Maddy is an inspiring young person in the Banyule community, and travels across the world to showcase her swimming talents by competing in various competitions – with the aim – to be her best.

Maddy and her mum have a very close bond, with Karen acting as her head coach during some of Maddy’s swimming events.

Maddy’s journey to success started when she was little, when her mum Karen, wanted Maddy to find a passion in sport and live a happy, healthy lifestyle.

“I started swimming when I was one,” Maddy said, with Karen adding: “our in laws had a pool at the time, and we went to the beach a lot. So, we always thought that it was important for our kids to learn how to swim, and I guess she [Maddy] just never stopped.”

Maddy continued to say that: “I used to play basketball, but they were all taller than me,” which is when she turned her attention to swimming.

Maddy is a Special Olympian and has participated in the Special Olympics for over a decade, winning a multitude of medals in the process.

Special Olympics offers young people and adults the chance to compete in Olympic-like events, that are tailored towards people with intellectual disabilities and gives them the opportunities to show case their abilities as well as develop friendships and leadership skills.

Maddy’s mum, Karen, said that she was involved in swimming lessons all her life, but the Special Olympics ignited her taste for competitive swimming.

“She did normal swimming lessons – like everybody did – but then she got involved in the Special Olympics when she was about 10,” Karen said.

“From there she started competing; and got the taste for it… [heading] to her first nationals in 2012.

“She got selected for her first senior nationals in 2014 and joined a local mainstream swimming club where she was able to get specific coaching which enabled her to be involved with other swimmers as well as gain a variety of experiences.

“But it was in 2018 when it all took off and went to a whole other level and Maddy started competing internationally.”

Maddy is proud of everything she’s achieved, but ultimately, she always falls back into the drive to beat her personal best, and to have fun competing with her friends; to her, it’s not all about winning.

“I’m really proud of my 200m freestyle and backstroke,” Maddy said, with Karen adding “her biggest one was the 200m backstroke she did in Canada in 2018.”

When talking about competing in Canada, Maddy said “I came 7th in the world!” recognising the amazing accomplishment that she had achieved.

She’s won numerous medals during her time in the pool, but she’s always remained humble and cemented that swimming is primarily for fun, and a way for her to excel.

But being the light-hearted soul she is, Maddy jokingly says: “I’ve got a lot of [medals] in my room, and I haven’t got a favourite – there’s too many.”

Adding that: “I feel really proud [when I win races], and it makes my mum and dad really proud of me”.

Maddy has a heart defect that has impacted her day-to-day life, but with her power and dedication to succeed, she’s not letting anything get in her way.

Karen said that exercise and swimming has had a significant impact on her life, and has helped her with her heart, and health challenges.

“Maddy had a fairly big heart defect, and we’ve been told from a fairly early age that exercise is going to help her along the way, so, we had a fairly big push towards it,” she said.

“So, 10 years later, she still hasn’t had further surgery… and they believe it’s all been assisted because of the exercise.”

For Maddy, this humble hero says: “it’s not all about winning, [swimming’s] about hanging out with friends and cheering them on and beating your personal best.”

Maddy also participates in Banyule Youth Services young entrepreneurial program – Market Space. Maddy’s small business – Madz Dezignz, stemmed from lockdown when swimming stopped, and Maddy needed a creative project to keep busy. Maddy created earrings, t-shirts, water bottles and bags, which she sold to the local community.

Through Madz Dezignz, Maddy raised funds for charity, and used this space as a fun and creative outlet to help others when the world was locked down.

Maddy currently also carves out four hours a week to volunteer at local food share hub – BANSIC Food Hub.

BANSIC Food Hub provides food assistance for residence of Banyule who are struggling with food security.

Maddy’s important role each week at BANSIC is to pack bags of essential grocery items, and to support customers with their individual needs.

From this experience Maddy says she has learnt principles important to her family about the value of giving back to the community.

Maddy says “I like helping people and working with some lovely people and I like making new friends and increasing my social network. I also like hanging with Tony and Donald who also volunteer at BANSIC because they are lots of fun”

BANSIC, she says helps people that are lonely or less fortunate, “they can come in and have a chat and get help if they need anything.”

Maddy says BANSIC always need support and they are open to volunteers and donations to help support them to help the continuation of the service.

Whether in the pool or in the community Maddy is proving everyday – that she’s filled with courage, dedication, and the drive to be the best she can be. Maddy wants to show people that her disability doesn’t define her, and that she can do anything she wants. She just needs to set her sights on her goals and go for it!

Words: Curtis Baines

Photography: Darcy Scales

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