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UV-PCSA Athlete Sets Two World Records

by Rich Cole

UVic swimmer Stephanie Dixon shocked the crowded Commonwealth Place last weekend as she broke two World Records. The University of Victoria athlete smashed the 200 and 400 meter Individual Medley disabled world marks.

"I had some unbelievable swims," said Dixon recalling her races at the Vancouver Island Regional Championships meet. "Moments like this confirm that I've made the right decision of coming to train with UVic and PCS."

Born with only one leg, 19 year old Stephanie Dixon made the move to from Toronto to Victoria this September to start her University career and focus on her second Paralympics held in Athens this summer. Dixon won 5 metals at the 2000 Sidney Paralympics and with the addition of two new World Records there's no question she'll be a contender in the 2004 Paralympics.

However, her goals extend far beyond the world of disabled swimming. A living lesson in human perseverance, Dixon is also a strong competitor against able-bodied swimmers. "My ultimate goal is to get my national time," said the enthusiastic Dixon.

While it may seem far-fetched that a swimmer with only one leg could contend against Canada's elite athletes, Dixon's ability to make finals both nights of the Vancouver Island Championships this weekend shows that she has what it takes.

When asked about the physiological benefits of her able-bodied competitors, Dixon was swift to point out that she's at a lesser disadvantage than most would think. "Everyone's different and therefore everyone has their weaknesses," said the swimmer. "Some athletes are taller, some are shorter. While I could be faster with another leg, I've learned to adapt and focus on my strengths like everyone else."

And adapted she has. The first year psychology major not only made the Varsity team as a freshman, but the rookie has already pre-qualified to represent UVic in the able-bodied Canadian Inter-University Sport Championships against the best swimmers in the country. She's now training 20 plus hours a week with PCS's elite national group and working towards the Holy Grail in Canadian swimming: the national time. This would give her a berth into the 2004 Canadian Olympic Trials.

The athlete credits her budding swimming career to the philosophies instilled by her mother and father. "My parents put me in as many physical activities as they could when I was growing up,"; said Dixon.