'We’re really trying to grow together': Brantford athlete hoping to help Canada qualify for 2024 Olympics
A Brantford teen is living her life-long dream as a member of Canada’s National Artistic Swimming Team but now she’s laser focused on the Pan Am Games and is hoping that leads to the 2024 Olympics.
Claire Scheffel, 19, has been competing at that level for less than two years but she has been swimming for as long as she can remember.
"So I started here at Brant Synchro as I think at seven years old and it kind of sparked from there," Scheffel said.
"From the time we put Claire in the water doing synchronized swimming, which has now become artistic swimming, she just has really taken to it and has done some amazing things with it," said parents Julie and Trevor Scheffel.
Being named to Canada’s team was a dream come true for the Brantford native.
"To actually be able to do it, it's crazy like I still am shocked at where I am today," Scheffel said.
The artistic swimmer started out on Canada’s youth team before moving up to the junior squad. She tried out for the senior team in the fall of 2022 while she was studying at the University of Waterloo.
"To come from Brantford and be trying out for the national team…like I'm the first ever from Brantford to be even in that position so it was really...I was just enjoying the experience," she told CTV News.
Scheffel was one of 16 swimmers selected for the team from those tryouts and moved to Montreal in January of last year for training.
The young athlete has been part of the country’s top team for just under two years.
"I think it’s from the support from my family,” Scheffel said. “They have been there behind me every day, pushing me a little bit further than I think I could even go."
After all this time, her parents still get butterflies every time they watch her swim.
"The entire aspect of everything she does in her day and the things they can do as a team and stuff is incredible and it's amazing to watch, 100 per cent it’s emotional there's ups and downs every day," Trevor said.
From Budapest to Spain – Scheffel has seen it all. She recently came home triumphant after her team won silver and bronze medals at the Artistic Swimming World Cup Super Final in Spain.
The next big event is the Pan Am Games in Chile in the fall where the winners will qualify for the 2024 Olympics in France.
"Our goal is to go to the Olympics so Pan Am is the competition that matters so we're really trying to grow together and learn together and improve along the way," she said.
The team’s next stop will be the World Aquatic Championship in July in Japan before competing in the Pan Am Games.