Para Pan Am Games offer ‘dream’ races for athletes

Tollcross pool

Tollcross International Swimming Centre, Glasgow, UK. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Racing at home in Canada has always been a dream for most athletes, and for me, this dream has become a reality.

I was selected to be on both the World Championship team, which was held in Glasgow, Scotland, as well as the Para Pan American Games team, which is being held in Toronto, Ontario. Both of these competitions have given me a look into what it will take to medal at the Rio Paralympics next summer.

Throughout the summer, the team has been in constant travel mode. Jumping from pool to pool and living out of our suitcases has become the norm.

We started out our summer with staging in Spain, then moved on to race in Glasgow. The transition from Spain to Glasgow was tough – with the temperature change and jet lag we all were exhausted. Thankfully, I have done this before and was prepared for these different traveling challenges. Being my third time in less than a year in Glasgow, I had an idea of what to expect when we landed.

The professionalism on the team this summer has grown exponentially from past years. Everyone is respectful of one another and has taken on different leadership roles to ensure everyone is being supported throughout the competition. I have noticed that with the help and encouragement of my teammates, my performances have been impacted in a positive way and I feel closer to everyone on the team. So with this change in atmosphere on the team, it is a really exciting time for Canadian para swimming, especially leading into a Paralympic year. 

The results from World Championships in Glasgow were impressive. As a team we came home with a total of 11 medals and 51 second swims. As for my swims, though I did not medal, overall I am happy with my races and now know what I need to work on for my events in Toronto.

In my S8 category, the swimming is getting more and more intense and competitive. There have been a lot of new, young, and fast swimmers coming on to the scene since London 2012, so I really have to focus on keeping up with the rest of the world if I want to stay on top. That is something I am willing to do.

As we finish our final preparations for Toronto I know what I have to do and it’s quite simple – just swim.

I’ve put in the extra work and have done everything I have been told to do, so really all that is left is to put it into motion. I need to trust myself and my capabilities in the water, along with not worrying about the elements I cannot control and instead focus my efforts on what I can. By doing that I am confident I will come away from the Para Pan Am Games with many solid swims and hopefully a couple medals.

The team this year is sharp and I am so proud to be a part of it. I am extremely excited to race in Canada and plan on using the crowd and the home support to my advantage.

For when those final meters to the wall really start to hurt, I can lean on my country to get to the wall and finish first.

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