The 25-year-old Moose Jaw, Sask., swimmer returned home with four medals in the Para swimming’s S7 class.
“When you’re standing up on that podium surrounded by people from different countries, it was definitely an experience of a lifetime and you definitely can’t get used to that,” Shaw said.
She earned a silver medal in the 100-metre freestyle, 50-metre freestyle and 100-metre backstroke along with a bronze in the 4X100-metre medley relay.
Shaw was one of four Saskatchewan athletes who medaled at the games which took place from Aug. 23 to Sept. 1.
“It was surreal. I went to this competition thinking that I wasn’t going to come home with medals,” Shaw said.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I went to the competition wanting to swim fast and get better times. Getting the medals was a cherry on top.”
What made the moment that much more special, was the unexpected arrival of her biggest fan.
Shaw’s mom Terina surprised her at the pool a day before the competition.
“She was definitely the loudest person in the entire crowd, I could hear her even when I swimming,” Shaw said.
“She’s been a huge supporter, so it was really nice to have somebody there for me.”
Like many athletes, Shaw credits her success to her parents, who have been by her side since day one.
“Being an athlete is amazing, but it’s very stressful because it’s so expensive and there’s a lot of travelling. My parents sacrificed a lot,” Shaw said.
That sacrifice has paid off and with a strong showing at the Parapan Am Games, Shaw has her sights set on the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan.
“It’s going to be a lot of work, but I have a lot of people that are supporting me and believe I can make it,” Shaw said.
“It all comes down to the training and me believing. I truly do believe that I can make it to Tokyo.”
Canadian trials for Tokyo takes place in Toronto in April 2020.
Prince Albert’s Erica Gavel helped Canada defend the gold medal in wheelchair basketball, Regina’s Nik Goncin took home silver in men’s wheelchair basketball and Melfort’s Julie Kozun won bronze in sitting volleyball.