Nineteen-year-old Jamie Booth has been a “fighter from the beginning”.
Born 14 weeks premature and clocking in at just over one kilogram at birth, Jamie has gone on to accomplish goal after goal – particularly when it comes to making a splash in the pool.
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy and profound hearing loss as a baby, the aspiring Paralympian said she had always loved swimming as it made her “feel free”. Jamie now represents the Para START swimming team at The University of Queensland, who are conducting a research project setting out to prove that swimming supports the overall wellbeing of people with cerebral palsy.
“I love doing things that people think I can’t do, breaking the stereotype of ‘disability’ and showing people I have ‘different abilities’,” said Jamie.
Jamie’s family first discovered Hear and Say when they moved to Brisbane in 2003, searching for support for their daughter’s hearing loss. Jamie soon began specialised speech therapy, known as auditory-verbal therapy, two days per week to help her learn to hear, listen and speak with the use of the cochlear implant she received when she was one year old.
Technology has come a long way even since the early 2000s, and Jamie said she loved the Bluetooth streaming feature now available through her current cochlear implant processor.
“This capability means I can Bluetooth phone calls and music directly to my implant. I love talking on the phone with my friends now, whereas before I would always send messages because it was so hard to hear and understand,” said Jamie.
“I can also listen to my pre-race playlist on my way to swimming meets, which cuts out background noise and makes me centred and focussed.”
Training four times each week, Jamie currently holds the Australian record for the fastest 50-metre backstroke in her S2 para-swimming classification, and has her eyes firmly set on attempting to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021.
“Being able to hear, listen and speak makes a huge difference for absolutely everything, and it means I can talk to the whole community,” said Jamie.
“It has been amazing to join a swimming team for para athletes at UQ ParaSTART and I have never let being profoundly deaf or having cerebral palsy get in the way of enjoying life.”