When Kelly Stefanyshyn climbed on the top podium step to receive her gold
medal at the Pan American Games for her victory in the 100-metre backstroke
last year it seemed the first chapter in her blossoming career had come
The 17-year-old Winnippeger had concluded an exciting 12-month journey in
which she established herself as Canada's finest female backstroker, made
inroads at the international level and managed a major career move with the
poise of someone twice her age.
It was Mark Tewksbury's victory in the 100 backstroke at the Barcelona
Olympics which heavily influenced Stefanyshyn to launch a swimming career.
She certainly had the athletic genes, both her parents having played
basketball at the university level. And she had the prototypical swimmer's
body build; tall and lean, much like her Olympic hero.
It was in August 1998 at the Maritime Life Nationals being held at the
Etobicoke Olympium that she burst on the national stage in dramatic
fashion. She won the gold medals in both the 100 and 200 backstroke in
Canadian record times.
But they weren't just any records. The 200 mark was the oldest national
record in the books and had stood since 1978. It was only the second time
in 22 years the 100 record had been lowered. Those performances qualified
her for the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur where she went on to grab a
silver medal in the 100 backstroke.
Since then she has shone on the World Cup short course circuit-placing
second overall in 1999 and first overall in the backstroke this year- and
managed a family move from Winnipeg to the Pacific Dolphins Club in
Vancouver along with her younger sister Deanna, also a nationally-ranked
"Kelly's very level-headed and she takes things in stride very well,
whether it's success or disappointment," said Pacific Dolphins head coach
Tom Johnson. "Because of that, her sense of self is very good. She can deal
with every single situation that comes along."
Women's 400-metre medley relay: Kelly Stefanyshyn, Winnipeg; Christin Petelski, Victoria; Jen Button, Waterloo, Ont., and Marianne Limpert, Fredericton, placed sixth in final.
Women's 200-metre backstroke: Kelly Stefanyshyn, Winnipeg, placed fifth in semifinal heat, advanced to final.
Kelly Stefanyshyn, Winnipeg, was fifth in semifinal heat, eliminated.
Canadian Kelly Stefanyshyn
2000 Games Swimming Coverage