In less than a year after her first major swim meet, Tammy Cunnington is earning medals on the international stage.
Most recently, she swam at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto, Ont. From Aug. 7 to 15, where her performance was so strong she finished with silver and two bronze medals in the S4 classification.
“All of my swims were personal best times,” said Cunnington of her efforts.
She has always been ready to win. The 39-year-old went from competitive triathlon competitions to swimming, which has taken her to a new level of competitiveness that makes her want to improve each time she swims.
Born in Ponoka, at six-years-old Cunnington was volunteering with the skate club during an air show when two planes collided and an errant propeller left her a paraplegic. She still had the full use of her right arm, core and shoulders.
That didn’t stop Cunnington from competing in wheelchair basketball and triathlon events. But it is in swimming that she appears to have found an edge.
Competing in her home country added to the fun of the experience and family and friends came out to the games to support her races.
Her main goal? To be better than the last time. Besides her personal bests, Cunnington also beat the Americas Record in the Women’s 50m butterfly S5 event.
Cunnington has been with the Canadian team for just over five months. She competed with them at the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) World Championships in Glasgow, U.K. July 13 to 19, and she said the training has been intense. “World championships is a good rehearsal for Panam Games,” she added.
Medals earned were silver in the women’s 200m freestyle (S4), bronze in the mixed 4x50m freestyle relay and bronze in the women’s 100m freestyle (S4).
The competition is tough but what makes Cunnington thrive is being able to have someone competing in the lane beside her, which makes her want to swim faster.
What’s next? “I’m on the road to Rio. I’m 100 per cent fully committed,” Cunnington said with determination.
Trials for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Paralympics start in April, 2016 and Cunnington expects the months leading up to trials to be an intense training experience.
Cunnington now lives in Red Deer and she swims for the Red Deer Catalina Club.