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Amy Van Dyken-Rouen ‘1,000 times better’ leaving hospital (video)

Aug 14, 2014, 3:27 PM EDT

Six-time Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen was released from a Colorado hospital Thursday, a little over two months after she was paralyzed below the waist and severed her spine in an ATV accident.

“1,000 times better,” she told reporters in Englewood, Colo. “When I first came in, if you remember, I was on a stretcher, didn’t really know how to use a wheelchair. Now I am the wheelie queen. I can go up a ramp, down a ramp in a wheelie. I can wheelie everywhere. It’s my favorite thing to do.”

Van Dyken-Rouen, 41, said she felt sporadic movement below her belly button in an interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer aired June 27, giving her some hope she may regain some feelings in her legs one day.

She said the toughest time of her recovery so far was the first time she went into the swimming pool, when she was told she had to do therapy in the water instead of swim laps.

“It’s been a lot of work, absolutely,” she said Thursday. “It’s been a lot of smiles, and a lot of laughs and a lot of ‘woo-hoos,’ and a lot of singing. There’s been a lot of tears shed, for sure. This is not easy. And I don’t want to portray the fact that because I have a smile on my face that it really is easy. It’s really not. It’s really life-changing.”

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