Blind Paralympic swimmer Aine Kelly-Costello, 17, is hanging up her goggles to focus on a career in music.
The Pinehurst School student has decided to retire from international swimming as she prepares for university next year. She is hoping to study a conjoint bachelor of music and arts at Auckland once the results of her Cambridge International Exams come through.
No stranger to juggling a full schedule, the Albany resident says the early morning trainings would be just too much.
"There's no way I'm going to do swim training and a conjoint - that's just crazy."
Miss Kelly-Costello competed in four freestyle and backstroke events at the London Paralympic Games this year but she says her first love is the flute.
She picked up the instrument aged 8, having already learnt to play piano by ear.
She then learnt to read music by braille and found she had a strong affinity with the flute.
"It's also more convenient, you can carry it around with you and you're always playing your flute, as opposed to piano."
Recordings and video clips of music provide the raw material for her braille book.
"When I'm memorising something I listen to it, see where my part fits in and record in into my braille book.
"It is slow and tedious but by the time I know it, I know it really well and I'm probably not going to forget it."
She hopes to one day make a living from her talent and says it would be a dream to play fulltime in an orchestra like the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
Mum Katherine Kelly says she is proud of her daughter, more for the effort she puts in than her results.
" Aine's definitely not lazy, she would do more if she could.
"When she reached toddler age I knew she was going to be fine, she was very outgoing and wasn't afraid to try new things," Ms Kelly says.
Before the university year begins, Miss Kelly-Costello is spending a month with a host family in Salamanca, Spain, where she hopes to increase her Spanish vocabulary.
First thing when she returns, she says will be moving into her new quarters at Auckland University where she will live fulltime during her studies.
On October 27, Miss Kelly-Costello will be collecting for the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind during its annual appeal week.
She says it is her way of returning the favour.
Go to rnzfb.org.nz for information and to donate.
- © Fairfax NZ News