26758-Shelby Newkirk photo

Shelby Newkirk



Impairment information

Origin of Impairment
S6, SB5, SM6

Further personal information

Saskatoon, SK, CAN
Athlete, Business Owner
Higher education
Education, Teaching - University of Saskatchewan: Saskatoon, SK, CAN

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began Para swimming in 2011. As a child she had played football, volleyball, basketball, danced and did gymnastics. "I don't sit still very well, so I've always been a very active person." In 2016 she began training with the Saskatoon Lasers Swim Club, and was invited to join the national Para swimming team the following year.
Why this sport?
Her mother heard about a Para swimming programme in Winnipeg, MB, Canada, close to where they lived at the time, and after her first try she fell in love with being in the pool. "Swimming was something I could still do even after this happened [being diagnosed with dystonia]. It was so much fun. I loved the competitiveness, so getting to bring that out in the pool was nice. Coming on deck and seeing that everybody was like me, they had crutches or they had some type of physical impairment, it was like finally I wasn't the only one. It was the first thing I could do that felt like it was before."
Club / Team
Saskatoon Lasers Swim Club: Canada
Name of coach
Eric Kramer [club]
Training Regime
"I swim five or six days a week plus a couple additional days in the gym, and meeting with nutritionists and trainers."

General interest

Most influential person in career
Her first swim coach Karen Williams, and her mother. (, 05 Apr 2019;, 2015)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"I try not to get frustrated when things are rough. And when things are going great I really try to maximise that time that I have." (, 03 May 2019)
Awards and honours
She was named Swimming Canada's 2018 Female Para Swimmer of the Year. She also won the award in 2017. (, 05 Apr 2019; Facebook profile, 13 Dec 2018)

She was named 2018 Female Athlete of the Year in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, at the Saskatchewan Sports Awards ceremony. (, 03 May 2019)

She was named the 2016 Para Swimmer of the Year by Swim Manitoba in Canada. (, 2016)

In 2016 she received an Order of Excellence Bronze Medallion from Sport Manitoba. (, 2016)
Famous relatives
Her mother played basketball for the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. Her younger brother Cole has played basketball at junior provincial level in Canada. (, 05 Apr 2019;, 15 Aug 2015;, 2015)
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (, 25 Mar 2020)
At age 13 she was diagnosed with dystonia after her right foot started cramping and spasming uncontrollably during a school trip. The condition affects her movement, balance, coordination and resulted in her losing the use of her right foot. (, 25 Mar 2020, 03 May 2019;, 26 Nov 2016;, 24 Nov 2016)
Other information
Having studied elementary education and teaching at university, she says she hopes to work with children in the future, and that she wants to help make schools and Para sport more accessible for children with impairments. "I've always wanted to help kids, especially in the school system. I don't know if I will work full-time in a classroom, or if I will do more consulting and try to get schools to increase accessibility, especially with phys-ed programmes and increasing Para sport awareness. I want to find ways to make schools a little bit more accessible for kids, and provide kids with the help they need. When I was first diagnosed I was pretty unsure of myself and what my abilities were and I just think, [what might have happened] if I'd had somebody that could have helped facilitate some of those adaptability things and find out about Para sport." (, 13 Sep 2019;, 03 May 2019;, 13 Dec 2018)

She runs her own business called Crafty Prairie Girl, which sells custom-made crochet items. She began crocheting as a way for her to relax before competitions. "One of my first big swim meets was in Minnesota. I sat there on the pool deck crocheting away. I got quite a few strange looks." She has another business called Accessible Life that sells custom-made products for people with impairments. (Facebook profile, 04 Dec 2020;, 13 Dec 2018)