Local Swimmer Beats Scoliosis, Sets Sights on 2020 Olympics

PLANO -- Like most kids her age, 15-year-old Ashlyn Fiorilli is getting ready to go back for school.  And while she may have a lot of her summer at the pool, that doesn't mean it was a relaxing vacation...

"A lot of training, a lot of swimming, basically my whole life," Fiorilli laughed. "I went to the Olympic Trials in June, and then I just swam at Juniors in the beginning of August."

Yeah, Ashlyn's a competitive swimmer at the national level.  At the Junior National Championships, she took second place, and became the top-ranked 15-and-under swimmer in women's 200-meter butterfly.

"Ever since I was a little girl," she told NewsFix, "the Olympics has always been like the top dream."

But her extraordinary ambitions were almost sidelined by something else that's not so common - Ashlyn suffers from Scoliosis, a sideways bending of the spine.

It's also a sneaky condition; it often causes little-to-no pain or discomfort, but can cause serious issues if it goes untreated.  Dr. Isador Lieberman, a spinal surgeon who serves as medical director of the Scoliosis and Spine Tumor Center at Texas Health Plano, says even though less than 3% of the population will ever need scoliosis surgery, it's recommended that young people get screened, since early detection can make all the difference.

Fortunately, Dr. Lieberman was able to straighten out Ashlyn's spine with a back surgery that may also have given the teenager 2020 vision - she hopes to compete in the summer Olympics in Tokyo in four years.

Says Fiorilli: "That would be awesome."