WINNIPEG – Hearing her name mentioned in the same breath as NHL superstar Jonathan Toews was one of many thrills swimmer Breanne Siwicki has had in the past year.
The 19-year-old Winnipeg swimmer was recently named the female athlete of the year for 2013 at the Manitoba Sport Awards, while Stanley Cup and Olympic champion Toews took the male award.
Siwicki took home the hardware in recognition of a season that showed she is on track to be a strong contender for the 2016 Olympic team.
“It’s an award I certainly didn’t expect,” said Siwicki. “The first half of my year was especially strong and I was able to have a successful Canada Games. It was pretty cool to win the award alongside such big names. We have a lot of great athletes in Manitoba so it was really special.”
Her coach at the Manta Swim Club in Winnipeg, Tom Hainey, says the key to Siwicki’s success began the previous season.
“The turning point for Breanne was at the Olympic Trials in 2012,” said Hainey. “Her performances there brought her a lot of confidence.”
A member of the National Development Team Program since 2011, the 19-year-old Siwicki started 2013 off on a strong note, earning five silver medals at the New South Wales State Age Championships in Australia. At the World Championships Trials she grabbed one of three junior spots for the Mare Nostrum circuit in Europe this past June.
She won the gold medal in the 1500-metre freestyle at the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que., smashing the previous Games mark by more than 11 seconds. In addition she took silver in the 100-m butterfly and 200-m butterfly and three other bronze medals.
Hainey wants his star pupil to continue improving in 2014.
“She is going to have more racing opportunities against tough opposition and we are excited to see how she’ll fare at the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Trials (set for April in Victoria),” he said. “Her main focus is the 400-m individual medley but she has shown a lot of depth overall in the past year.”