Morgan Bird still remembers the exact moment swimming became her sport.
“I had lots of check-ups at the children’s hospital and they were telling me what I was doing at one of my swim practices was doing the same thing that my physio exercises were doing, and I absolutely hated physio, so that was an incentive to stay in the sport,” Bird said.
Morgan was born with cerebral palsy, which affects the left side of her body. Growing up, she tried a number of sports, but it was the pool that became her sanctuary.
“Swimming has benefited me beyond anything I could have imagined,” she said.” I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”
“We’ve always told our kids, ‘you can do whatever you want,'” said Morgan’s father Garth Bird. “We never looked at Morgan with a disability, it wasn’t about a disability, it was about getting into some kind of sport that she could do.”
“She found her niche, right. What she was called to.”
Swimming has give Morgan more than she ever dreamed possible, including nine Canadian records and the opportunity to compete in two Paralympic Games — London 2012 and Rio 2016.
“Honestly, looking back now, I never would have thought,” Morgan said. “Like, if you were to tell my 11-year-old self that I would have come this far, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
“We put her into swimming, not ever expecting her to achieve what she’s achieved, it’s been an incredible journey,” her father added.
Now at age 23, Morgan’s passions include giving back to the sport that gave her so much.
“I find it very important for me to raise people’s awareness about the Paralympic movement any chance I get,” she said.
Every month Morgan works with Keziah Heppner, a nine-year-old swimmer who also has cerebral palsy.
“Even if my story touches one young person and gets them involved in sport, that’s very meaningful to me,” Morgan said.