Growing up in Regina, Kenzie Priddell dreamed of representing her country at the highest level. And now, the 23-year-old is set to accomplish her goal, as she has been named to Canada’s Artistic Swimming team for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“It’s going to the highlight of my career,” said Priddell. “It still doesn’t really feel real. I’m excited to take it day-by-day and just enjoy all the experiences it has to offer.”
From swimming in her backyard as a youngster, to more competitive swimming when she in Grade 7 and 8, to making the Canada’s National Team in 2017, Priddell’s path to Tokyo has taken a lot determination. And now, she’s set to become just the second artistic swimmer ever from Regina to represent Canada at the games, joining Nicole Cargill, who wore the maple leaf at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
“I am just so proud to be from Saskatchewan,” said Priddell. “Coming from Saskatchewan or other smaller training clubs, it’s hard to get to this level, so I just want to show that really it doesn’t matter where you come from or how big your facilities are or your team, if you keep working, if you keep trying, you can climb up that ladder and get to your goal.
“Because we’re from a smaller place, we had to find things that would work with her programming,” added Tina Chernoff, Priddell’s high performance coach. “We didn’t have as much pool time as everybody else, so we added a lot of land and a lot of different training on land so we were always thinking outside the box and trying to find new ways to make her better.”
Along with the hard work put in, support from groups like Sask Sport, the Sport Medicine and Science Council, Regina Synchro, and Saskatchewan Artistic Swimming, along with various coaches and trainers, have allowed her to achieve her dreams.
“It’s just about being determined and dedicated and never giving up,” said Priddell, who represented Saskatchewan at the 2015 Canada Games. “If you believe that you are capable of accomplishing something, you can do it. You just need to keep going and keep believing in yourself.”
And Priddell’s role as the alternate on Team Canada means she has to be the ultimate team player.
“There’s eight different positions on the team, so my job is to be familiar with all of them,” said Priddell, who is the lone extra swimmer. “My job is to jump in and do what the team needs in that moment.
“There’s so many different parts of choreography to learn and make sure you’re in the right pattern and the right spot, so it’s a lot of pressure,” added Chernoff.
But after the road she’s been down, Priddell will be ready, knowing this will be the pinnacle of her artistic swimming career.
“To wear that maple leaf proud and to represent the country is just an amazing and incredible feeling,” she said.