2000 Canadian Sport Awards
ALSO ON SLAM!
Kelly Stefanyshyn - Swimming
Nominated by Swimming Canada NatationWinnipeg native Kelly Stefanyshyn stepped into the spotlight at the 1999 Pan American Games to the delight of the overflow hometown crowd. With parents, grandparents, and friends cheering madly, Stefanyshyn, who now trains in Vancouver, maintained her focus and, holding nothing back, swam to victory in the 100-metre backstroke. The swim under pressure was solid indication that this rising star has all the ingredients essential to international success. She cemented her growing reputation with the bronze medal in the 200-metre backstroke and was a key member of the silver-medal-winning 4x100-metre medley relay.
Stefanyshyn first attracted national attention last season when she eclipsed the longest standing Canadian swimming record in the books, set by Cheryl Gibson in 1978, with a time of 2:14.17 in 200 back. She quickly followed with a strong silver-medal performance in the 100 back at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, establishing a Canadian record in the process. Stefanyshyn was well on her way to achieving her dream of an Olympic appearance.
Throughout the 1998/99 season, the eight-time national champion continued to serve notice that her star was ascending. She came away from the 1999 World Short Course Championships with silver and bronze medals. On the challenging World Cup circuit, she won eight gold medals in her backstroke specialty along with three silvers and one bronze to finish second overall. At a World Cup meet in November, she smashed her own short course record in 200 back.
For all indications a worthy successor to the likes of earlier Canadian backstroke greats, including double Olympic bronze medallist Nancy Garapick, Stefanyshyn's ownership of the backstroke in Canada continues into the 2000 season, with her gold-medal World Cup performances positioning her well for the upcoming Olympic trials in May.