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Artistic swimmer from Brantford Ont. overcomes rough waters to make Paris Olympics


Claire Scheffel, an artistic swimmer from Brantford Ont., is taking her talents from a community pool in Elmira, to the Olympic stage in Paris.

The 20-year-old is set to make her first Olympic appearance, after Canada’s artistic swim team qualified for the Summer Games in February. The team punched its ticket with a fifth-best aggregate score at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha.

“It’s really a beautiful thing,” Scheffel told CTV News. “Growing up it’s always been in the back of my head, but mentally I really like to go at things step by step.”

While beautiful to watch, the sport is physically demanding for its competitors.

“You are exerting yourself to your full capacity. You’re holding your breath, and on top of all that you’re trying to look like it’s easy,” Scheffel said. “It’s definitely one of the most challenging sports in the world.”

For Scheffel, artistic swimming came naturally at a young age. She comes from an athletic family with a long history of competitive swimming, including her father Trevor, who insisted each of his kids learned to be confident and capable in the water.

“My family have always been really big swimmers. [My dad] went to multiple Olympic trails and came really close to the Olympics as well.”

Scheffel vaulted up the Canadian ranks, joining the senior national program in 2021.

She entered the 2022 Wold Aquatic Championships as an alternate on the Canadian team, but ended up competing after a last-minute injury to a teammate.

She competed in her third World Aquatic Championships in February, swimming in technical, free, and acrobatic routines, ultimately qualifying for Paris.

“It was a big, big, big build-up to this culmination and we’re so proud and so relieved for her to know,” Scheffel’s mother, Julie, told CTV News.

The team’s path to the Olympics didn’t come without challenges. The team cycled through three coaches from 2022 to 2024, and was forced to find a new place to train after a fire at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium back in March.

“That’s where we have our facility and our physio. Right now we’re training outside, but there was a little bit when we were training in a high school pool,” Scheffel said.

Navigating through several challenges, Scheffel fell back on her personal motto “just keep swimming”. Something that kept her focused on the big picture.

“[The team] is so resilient,” said Julie Scheffel, adding the team didn’t know if the facility would be closed for a few days or a few months. “She’s always so focused, the sacrifices she’s made.”

Scheffel will be in Paris for the opening ceremony on July 26, with artistic swimming competition running Aug. 5 to 7. Top Stories

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