You are here

No limits in or out of the pool for Victoria's Dixon

Allison Cross, Vancouver Sun

Somewhere between nine training sessions a week in water and on land and her studies at the University of Victoria, Paralympic swimmer Stephanie Dixon finds time to give back.

Although she was once told she'd never even ride a bike, she volunteers and teaches rock climbing to kids with disabilities, said Peter Vizsolyi, the head coach of UVic's swim team.

"She's an interesting girl. She has a tremendous amount of energy," Vizsolyi said. "She'll really step forward to do things."

Dixon, 24, is known as one of the best swimmers with a disability in the world and has won 15 medals in the last two Paralympic Games.

She'll compete in her third Games in Beijing this month in a variety of events, including the 200-metre individual medley, 100-metre backstroke and 50-metre freestyle.

Dixon said her goal is to achieve best times in all her swims.

"Even though these are my third Games and I have had successful Games in the past, my goals for these Games are the same as they always are," Dixon said from Japan, where she was training.

"I take it one day at a time and do the best swim that I can put together for each race. That's all I have control of."

Swimming is always challenging, she said, but the constant laps can become repetitive if she doesn't go into practices with the right mindset.

"It's important that there is a good song playing on the radio in the car on the way to the pool, because that will be what will be going over and over in your head for the workout," Dixon said.

Dixon was born missing her right leg, but said she doesn't really consider it a disability.

"I was born this way so I don't know any different. I do the best that I can with what I have," she said. "I find my limitations and push past them, like all athletes do."

After moving from Brampton, Ont., to Victoria to pursue a degree in psychology, Dixon began training with UVic's Pacific Coast Swimming club in 2003.

At the Athens Paralympic Games in 2004, she came home with two gold medals and three silvers.

She brought four gold medals home from the Sydney Games in 2000. Dixon is an exceptional young woman with an amazing presence, said Vizsolyi.

"The most exciting thing, besides her overall presence, is what she's prepared to give back to the community," he said.

Read the whole story....