A new world record for a Saskatoon woman at the 2017 Para-Swimming Canadian Open earlier this month.
21-year-old Shelby Newkirk captured the record for the S7 100-metre backstroke on Oct. 3, at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
“To compete in Canada was really exciting and to be able to break the world record on Canadian soil was a great feeling,” Newkirk said.
In the five and a half years of swimming Newkirk has set seven Canadian records, two U.S. records and now a world record time of 1-minute-21.45 seconds.
Newkirk said she just works with what she’s got.
“No matter what life throws at you, you can still have a smile on your face and you can still find a reason to smile,” said Newkirk.
Eight years ago she was diagnosed with a neurological movement disorder called dystonia.
“My brain has trouble communicating with my muscles as to what to do,” she said. “My right foot is inverted, I have balance issues, I don’t have full use of my legs. My hands sometimes do odd positionings.”
According to Newkirk, after being diagnosed she felt lost not being able to play sports like she used to.
“On land, I don’t have a lot of control with my body. In the water, I can just get in. I don’t need any mobility devices and I can just swim,” Newkirk told 650 CKOM.
Now, her sights are set on the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
When she’s not swimming Newkirk is busy with school, she’s a second-year education student at the University of Saskatchewan.