Stonewall Collegiate Institute's Sapphire Johnson with the three gold medals she received during the Manitoba Winter Games in Thompson March 4 to 10. (Submitted Photo)
A local teen, with a passion for swimming, recently brought home three gold medals from the Manitoba Winter Games held in Thompson March 4 to 10.
Stonewall Collegiate Institute Grade 9 student Sapphire Johnson won gold in the 50 metre youth female breaststroke final, the 100m individual youth female medley final and the 100m youth female breaststroke final at the competition.
“I am happy with the times I swam in Thompson and to be able to represent my community and my team positively, while doing something I love,” Johnson told the Stonewall Argus & Teulon Times.
Her love for the sport stems from the way it makes her feel, she explained. “I love swimming because it’s refreshing, it has rewarding health benefits (and I’m) able to compete against my friends,” she said.
“It’s also really very fun to be able to compete as an individual but never feel like your alone because you can hear your team cheering for you, even when you’re underwater. Being able to be so close to your team, that you know if they swam their goal time and being able to cheer for them until you lose your voice is one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced,” she added, describing her passion for the sport.
Her support network in Stonewall were cheering for her success in their own way, she explained. “My friends and teachers were extremely supportive towards me leading up to the competition, wishing me luck, giving me advice for my nerves leading up to my races and asking how it went when I came back. I received so much encouragement and advice from everyone,” she said.
Johnson currently swims regularly with the St. James Seals and started swimming competitively at the end of her sixth grade academic year. The teen previously participated in the 2016 Manitoba Summer Games in Steinbach and attended this year’s winter games for the first time.
She prepared for the event by attending a more local swim meet. “I went to a big swim meet called Prairie Winter International the weekend, before to receive some tips regarding my technique from my coach before heading to Thompson,” she said.
Johnson said she enjoyed participating in the competition. “My overall games experience was great, I made new friends, visited with old ones and competed in a pool I’ve never competed in before,” she said.
Johnson said sight-seeing around Thompson was an added bonus of the trip. “I really enjoyed being able to have some free time to check out the city and watch some other athletes compete in their sports,” she said.
Johnson will soon participate at the Golden Plains Invitational in Winnipeg April 27 to 29, before going to a competition in Thunder Bay in May and the Manitoba/Saskatchewan provincial championships in July.