Local para-swimmer sets 3 national records at Saskatoon Goldfins Invitational

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WATCH ABOVE: Para-swimmer Shelby Newkirk set three national records at the Goldfins Invitational in Saskatoon. Claire Hanna reports – Dec 2, 2016

Para-swimmer Shelby Newkirk set three national records, in the 50m backstroke and the 50m and 200m breaststroke, at the Goldfins Invitational in Saskatoon.

Newkirk, who grew up outside of Winnipeg but moved to Saskatoon to attend the University of Saskatchewan, only started swimming five years ago.

When she was 13, she was diagnosed with dystonia, a disorder which causes involuntary muscle contractions and left her without the use of her right foot.

“Swimming was something I could still do even after this happened. It was so fun, I loved the competitiveness, so getting to bring that out in the pool was nice,” said the Saskatoon Lasers Swim Club member.

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The 50m backstroke has been her strongest event, but this was the first time she had set a national record.

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“I felt like I got a really good time, so I looked up [at the score clock] just to confirm, and I saw that I got a Canadian record and it was just so exciting,” Newkirk said.

What’s even more impressive is that before setting the Canadian record in the 200m breaststroke, it was an event she had never swam in competition.

“My legs hurt so bad by the end, I was just screaming and I touched the wall. I thought I had come in at seven minutes, but I looked up and I got the Canadian record. I joked with my coach, now that I’ve got this record, I don’t have to swim it anymore right,” joked the swimmer.

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Newkirk needs the assistance of her coach to get onto the starting block, as her right foot strength is compromised, but she says that swimming gives her a sense of liberation.

“I just love the feeling of that control that I have in the water, because I don’t feel like I have a lot of control normally,” Newkirk said.

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Newkirk attended the Rio Paralympic trials this past summer and even met the standard times, but wants to build experience before competing on the world stage.

“Going into trials, I wasn’t expecting to make the team or anything, I just wanted this to be a trial run before Tokyo,” said Newkirk, who will be hoping to qualify for worlds in the upcoming months.

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