GATINEAU, Que. – The Second Para-swimming Summit will bring together the top leaders and partners from across the country to chart the future of Para-swimming in Canada.
Swimming Canada has invited its funding partners, leaders from every province, coaches and athlete representatives, and other national and provincial organizations to the two-day summit, which begins Tuesday in Gatineau, Que.
Own the Podium, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, the Canadian Swim Coaches and Teachers Association, the Canadian Red Cross, YMCA, Little People Ontario/Canada, Parasport Newfoundland, Parasport Quebec, the Ontario Blind Sports Association and Sport Canada are all expected to participate.
Swimming Canada senior leadership including CEO Ahmed El-Awadi, Director of High Performance and Sport John Atkinson, Senior Manager of High Performance Para-swimming Programs James Hood, and Senior Paralympic Coach Vince Mikuska will be in attendance. Nine of the 10 provincial sections are represented, with most sending both administrative and technical leaders. Sydney 2000 Paralympic silver medallist Jessica Tuomela will provide a high-performance athlete perspective.
“It’s really a pretty amazing collection of people,” Hood said. “The goal of the summit is to create the roadmap for moving forward to improved international performance for the 2020 and 2024 Paralympic Games by aligning our development pathways. We will produce a post-meeting action plan and a roadmap for the development of our stars of the future.”
Key focuses will be:
- Recruitment and talent identification;
- Development programs for coaches & athletes;
- Culture, inclusion, integration and valuing;
- Learn to swim/national disability organizations/municipalities/sport system roles & responsibilities;
- Competition model and competition framework
Canada won eight swimming medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, including four by Closing Ceremonies flag-bearer Aurelie Rivard, who just turned 21 this week. But Swimming Canada has identified the need to build the participation base for Para-swimming by further removing barriers for all Canadians to swim. The summit will evaluate the current landscape and feature roundtable discussions to plot how to best work together in the future.
“This summit will be key in aligning our strategies for the recruitment and retention of athletes, which is one of the roadblocks we have. We need more athletes performing at all levels in order to achieve the podium performances predicted for 2020 and 2024,” Hood said.
“Our funding partners Own the Podium and Sport Canada have shown the foresight and leadership in designing a pathway to the future. This shows our community and our funding partners our commitment to make swimming the pre-eminent Paralympic sport and the go-to sport for all Canadians.”
The summit will wrap up Wednesday afternoon as the 40 participants attend the Sixth Annual Swim Day on the Hill from 3:15 to 4 p.m. on Parliament Hill.
Media are invited to join Senators and MPs, swimming and drowning prevention advocates, and health and fitness leaders for a group photo in lifejackets in an effort to promote the importance of water safety and every Canadian child learning to swim.