The water has become an alternate world for Ella Miller. One where she can submerge herself in her craft and use her athletic ability to glide through the struggles of life.

Swimming is like walking for Ella. She started when she was eight years old, swimming in a big pool near her house, under her father’s instruction.

Ella quickly emerged as a talented swimmer, and she fell in love with being in the water.

“I think it was just that feeling of not being on land and being kind of in a different environment almost, I just love it,” Miller detailed. “It was just that feeling of, you can swim… and just go straight forward, and going fast feels pretty cool.”

As the Shelburne, Vt. native continued to improve and hone her skills, she started earning national recognition with her multitude of speedy times and state championship wins.

However, her dreams of furthering her swimming career were halted when she injured her back in her sophomore year of high school.

“I pulled a muscle in my lower back,” Miller reflected. “I swam through it and it healed itself, but it messed up the alignment of my spine, and then I got back senior year ready to go, and I strained three muscles in my left shoulder.”

Ella is the kind of person to just “swim through it,” but the injuries turned out to be very serious.

“Ella was told by doctors that she wouldn’t perform at a high level again, from her back injury,” Nicola Anderson, Ella’s swim coach, explained. “But Ella loves this sport and she wouldn’t let that stop her.”

So Ella worked harder, pushed through, and came out a stronger swimmer as a result.

“I just put a pull buoy weight in and I used my arms and now I’ve been kicking so my legs have gotten a lot stronger,” Miller said. “I think those injuries have helped me become the swimmer I am because I was able to strengthen different parts of my body when others weren’t really working.”

Ella’s perseverance and talent did not go unnoticed. In the fall, she’ll continue her swimming career at Auburn University, competing on a Division I team in the SEC.

Despite all her accolades and accomplishments, she’s still very grateful for her journey and her roots.

“Just being like, ‘I’m from Vermont, I did this out of a small, six lane pool in Williston,’ is so cool to me, and just looking back on that is really special.”