By Tom Degun

Victoria Arlen picJanuary 29 - London 2012 Paralympic swimming champion Victoria Arlen (pictured left) of the United States has been honoured with a special reception at her High School in Exeter, New Hampshire by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (right) as she prepares to graduate.

The 18-year-old from Boston, who lost the use of her legs and was left in a coma for two years due to the rare viral disease transverse myelitis, won a gold medal at three silvers at London 2012 in the S6 class.

But it was her rivalry with British star Ellie Simmonds that proved one of the highlights of the Paralympics as the pair lit up the Aquatics Centre on the Olympic Park in Stratford by trading victories.

The reception ceremony at Exeter High School saw Shaheen present Arlen and her family with a copy of the Congressional Record Statement titled "A Tribute to Victoria Arlen" as she was commended for her dedication, hard work and spirit of character.

"New Hampshire is so proud of your achievements and is fortunate to have such a wonderful role model to inspire us all," Shaheen said.

Arlen is astonishingly set to graduate this year having caught up on five years of missed schoolwork in three years following her viral disease and she said she is hugely grateful for the support she has received.

VictoriaArlen2Victoria Arlen won gold at the London 2012 Paralympics in the 100 metres freestyle S6 as well as three silver medals

"I have many teammates who get next to no support and recognition," she said.

"I feel blessed to be part of such an incredible state."

In attendance at the reception were Arlen's parents and two brothers.

"It's been quite a journey," said Arlen's mother Jacqueline.

"She's touching people and making a difference and that's what it's all about."

Arlen has already been named as one of the 16 athletes in the US Paralympics swimming squad for 2013 and her next major outing is set to be this year's International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada.

The World Championships are due to place at from August 11 to 17 and the renewal of Arlen's rivalry with Simmonds is likely to be one of the highlights of the competition.

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