Devin Ross never thought a life in the pool would be his ticket to success.
"As a kid, I always dreamed of doing something great or inspiring people, I just never thought it would come through swimming," Ross said.
Julia Anderson would watch as other kids would shine at meets.
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"I would look at those people who were really fast and going to trials and say, aw… maybe one day, I can make trials or something," said Anderson.
But for both of them, those childhood dreams are alive and well.
Together they are headed to the Olympic Trials for the chance to represent Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
But the road has been a long and steady uphill battle.
For Devin, the climbed started when he was three years old. That's when doctors diagnosed him with autism.
"They basically told my mom, 'your son would never make it to college, would never live on his own,' and I think they even said that I would have to be institutionalized at one point," Ross said.
At 23, he's defied the odds.
The Fort Worth native moved to Shreveport in 2008 to attend Centenary College of Louisiana.
Now, he's swimming his way to a life doctors thought he'd never live. Ross credits autism as the source of his success.
"I think it enhanced my swimming because I was able to put all my physical and cognitive resources into swimming," Ross said.
For Julia Anderson, it's a different story.
Pneumonia plagued her career for the past several months.
The head coach of the Fort Worth area swim team, Ron Forrest, says it started in her lungs and spread to her body, leaving her physically exhausted from the infection.
"We've really had a struggling period where she's just been really fatigue...and deal with it in that fashion," Forrest said.
But, like her teammate, Anderson presses on, showing up to practice each day with a smile -- and ready to work.
"Whatever you're doing, make sure you're having fun. Like don't just sit there and be miserable because if you're not having fun, it's not worth doing," Anderson said.
Devin Ross and Julia Anderson could have given up a long time ago. It's the love for their sport and the support from their families and coach that keep them going, despite any setbacks.
"Here are two people who are the best role models you could have," Forrest said. "They're fantastic people, young adults, and they're gonna be great when they get older."
Ross and Anderson are among the many North Texas swimmers who've qualified for the US Olympic Trials. Competition starts Monday, June 25, in Omaha, Nebraska.
NBC 5 will have coverage of the trials at 7 p.m. every night,from June 25 through July 1.