I have always loved swimming ever since I was a little girl. Seeing it live at the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House was beyond exciting. As much as I enjoy watching it on television, seeing it live is one hundred times better. The energy was palpable.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the athletes race very tight races. All of the Canadian athletes had a very strong showing and made Canada very proud. There were two men that stood out. Jonathan Dielman swam in the 50m Breaststroke in 54.57 seconds. That was a personal record. Nicolas Turbide won silver in the Men’s 50m Freestyle. Congratulations Jonathan and Nicolas! The women’s races were also very tight. They also made Canada proud!
As excited as I was to see the athletes compete, I was ecstatic to interview Adam Purdy. He is a three time Paralympian and two-time Paralympic gold medalist. And those are only two of his many accomplishments. We sat down together and here is some of what he had to say:
What does it mean to represent your country on home soil?
“Representing on home soil is a unique opportunity for swimmers for one thing. It doesn’t usually happen. We don’t have this big of caliber of meet in Canada for us so this is a unique opportunity. Coming from London Ontario which is just two hours down the 401, it’s very close so a lot of my family and friends are going to have this opportunity to be able to see me race, to see me do what I love doing most and what I’m passionate about and that is racing hard. Like I said, it’s not an opportunity that comes up too often, especially in a multi sport games environment like this with the Pan Am Games so there is a lot of hype around it. Everyone is excited. The crowd is really engaged and they want to push all the athletes towards their excellence and I think it’s happening. So it’s awesome. Home soil is great.”
How does swimming enable you?
“Well swimming as a sport enables me because it’s naturally inclusive. You have so many elements about sport that require maybe some sort of equipment or something like that that makes it difficult for people with disabilities to participate. But swimming as you’ve seen doesn’t really require much equipment. The water itself is an equalizing medium. As soon as we all dive in there, we all have to fight against the water. We have to not drown. We have to move fast. Whatever our abilities are to be able to move through the water, we have to utilize those features. In some cases it’s maybe missing a limb, or maybe it’s having a certain neurological limitation but effectively it’s about how do you adapt to your disability in the water. That’s what I think empowers me the most and enables me to be able to do something that I love to do.”
What is your proudest moment?
“Well, you know, I’ve really had a lot of proud moments in the water. If we’re looking at just moments that are you know where I’ve got gold around my neck, I can talk about the Sydney 2000 Games where I won double gold. One in the 100m backstroke and one in the 4X medley relay where I swam backstroke on that. That was, it was just amazing. As you saw out there too to have your national anthem played and your flag raised, and you know the spotlight is on Canada and it’s on your performance and your race it’s quite humbling of an experience to be able to look up and see that, and especially with 18000 fans in the crowd. But then you know I’ve also had some proud moments where you know now I’m in kind of a different phase of my life and I’m seeing my daughter start swimming. It’s amazing to be able to see sport develop, and a passion for the sport come up. Seeing her do her races, because she does the summer club swimming to be able to see that happen is like you get those shivers for her and she’s doing her thing and she really loves doing it. I think sport is again of those things that builds us, builds our character. Every time I’m in the pool now I’m trying to something s little bit different just to go faster and you know every moment that I think that it’s going to make me a faster swimmer is going to make me more proud to be able to represent Canada.”
In the 2015 Para Pan Am Games Adam won bronze in the mixed relay. He swam a personal best 33.80 seconds to claim the bronze in the Men’s 50-meter butterfly. Adam won a second bronze in the Mixed 4X50m Freestyle Relay. He also won silver in the 100m backstroke.
Way to go Adam!
If you are interested in swimming, the following links will help you find places you can go:
- Swim Ontario – www.swimontario.com
- Swim B.C. – www.swimbc.ca
- Saskatoon Goldfins Swim Club – www.goldfins.ca
- Swim Saskatchewan – www.swimsask.ca
- Swim Alberta – www.swimalberta.ca
- Swim Nation Manitoba – www.swimmanitoba.mb.ca
- Swim Nova Scotia – www.swimovascotia.com
- Swimming New Brunswick – www.swimnb.ca
- Swimming Newfoundland and Labrador – www.swimnl.nfld.net
- Swimming PEI – www.swimpei.com
- Fédération de nation du Québec – www.fnq.qc.ca