A para-swimmer with local ties has made quite the splash in the national swimming scene.
After breaking three Canadian Paralympic swimming records at the Saskatoon Goldfish Invitational on Nov. 19 and 20, Shelby Newkirk, 20, has her eyes set on the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
On Nov. 19 she broke the S8 50-metre backstroke short course record by 0.04 seconds and the SB7 200-metre breaststoke. Then on Nov. 20 she broke the SB7 50-metre breaststroke record by nearly two seconds, finishing in 47.83 seconds. S8 and SB7 are classifications to categorize swimmers according to their type of disability.
Newkirk lives in Saskatoon and attends the University of Saskatchewan, but has family in Piapot – her grandparents Wayne and Carol Newkirk.
Wayne Newkirk said he couldn’t be more proud of his granddaughter.
“She’s doing fantastic,” he said. “She has the best attitude of any person I know, the toughest attitude.”
Reaching the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo is a very realistic possibility, Wayne Newkirk said.
“She’s really determined and really good at it,” he said.
Shelby Newkirk is currently competing on the Canadian NextGen swim team, which is almost like an audition for Team Canada at the 2020 Games. Just like her grandfather, she said she likes her chances of making the team.
“I’m definitely really confident after I got these records, which is a huge first step,” Shelby Newkirk said.
When Newkirk was 13 years old she developed dystonia, which caused her to lose the use of her right foot. Now, seven years later, she said she’s excited to possibly inspire other swimmers.
“I remember the first person I met through para-swimming who had Canadian records,” she said. “It was just so inspiring. The fact that I could be that person to our younger swimmers on the team and to other para-swimmers to show them that anything is possible” is exciting.
Newkirk currently swims on the Saskatoon Lasers.