It’s been a year to remember for Englefeld, Sask.’s, Tianna Zimmerman following a strong showing at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
The 18-year-old swimmer took home gold in the women’s 4x50m freestyle relay and bronze in the 800m freestyle.
Her accomplishments earned Zimmerman Special Olympics Canada’s Female Athlete of the Year.
“I’m still kind of shocked and expecting that I’m going to wake up and that it never actually happened,” Zimmerman said.
“Part of it still kind of feels like it was a dream.”
Zimmerman began her journey in swimming about five years ago when she decided to take the plunge in the Special Olympics Humboldt swim program.
Battling nerves, Zimmerman slowly found comfort in the pool — swimming soon turned into a passion.
“I don’t like a lot of noise and with swimming, I’m in the water and I can’t hear anything,” Zimmerman said.
“It’s just kind of quiet and nice.”
Zimmerman describes herself as being shy, but since she began competing she said she has discovered a new sense of confidence.
“I can definitely talk a lot more to people and I’m getting a lot better in crowds,” Zimmerman said.
“When I was younger, I couldn’t even be in a room with my entire school without crying and there was barely 100 of us. But now, I’ve managed to go in front of a bunch of people, like at Worlds with hundreds of people and I was just fine.”
Zimmerman learned all four swim strokes and won medals for Team Saskatchewan at the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Antigonish, N.S., her first taste of success.
She also received the Special Olympics Saskatchewan Athlete of the Year award on Sept. 21 in Yorkton.
Zimmerman will receive her national award on Nov. 14 in Toronto.