MAYFLOWER, Ark.– The Paralympics are underway in Tokyo and one Arkansas native is hoping to make a big splash at the games.

Julia Gaffney, 21, will swim in five events for Team USA.

“She has loved the water since the beginning,” said Kristin Gaffney, Julia’s mother.

She says Julia has been a swimmer since she was a young girl and has spent countless hours in the pool training for the games.

Julia was born missing bones in both of her legs, but instead of letting that slow her down, she used it to propel her.

“If you’re Julia– there is only two reasons to do something. If you can be fast, and you can be first,” laughed Kristin Gaffney.

On Thursday, Julia swam for the first time in Tokyo, competing in the ‘Women’s 200 IM’ prelim.

Her family was unable to attend in Tokyo due to the ongoing pandemic. Instead, they cheered her on thousands of miles away from their home in Mayflower.  

“We’d love to be in Tokyo but we are going to cheer her on from here,” said Dan Gaffney, Julia’s dad.

Gaffney came in first place; however, was disqualified right after. The reason was not made clear.

 With four events left in Tokyo for Gaffney to swim in, her parents say they are confident she can still come home with a medal.

“She didn’t have the easiest start in life and to see where she has come and what she has done with the gifts she has is just fantastic,” said Kristen Gaffney.