At the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Aurélie Rivard brought home gold medals in the 50m, 100m, and 400m freestyle, as well as a silver medal in the 200m individual medley. Her race times resulted in two world records and four Canadian records. This year, Rivard intends on making a splash at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
For people who don’t know, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Aurélie Rivard, I am a Paralympic swimmer and I am heading to Tokyo for my third Paralympic Games to defend three gold medal titles in swimming.
When did your swimming journey begin?
I have been swimming my entire life. It all started with my Red Cross lessons as a kid. I wasn’t good and I didn’t like it but my Mom forced me to finish them. Over time, I grew to love swimming and wanted to become a lifeguard. When I was 11, a local coach spotted me swimming and introduced me to competitive swimming. I started competing in 2007 and in 2009 when I was 13, I was selected to be on the National Team.
How have you conquered adversities, and what do you attribute your success to?
Swimming got me out of a darker period of my life, I was struggling with anxiety, panic attacks and an eating disorder but swimming helped get me through all of that. At the time, I had no self-confidence and I didn’t think I could do anything, but I proved myself wrong every day with swimming. I began setting goals and consistently working. In 2012 I was able to qualify for the Paralympic games. The tools I used for that window of three to four years still help me today. I apply them in everyday life and they have helped shape the athlete that I am today.
What would you tell your teenage self, if you were to meet them today?
Be proud of your difference and celebrate it!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
This piece of swimming advice is a metaphor for many things. One time I was stressing over a race because of the other girls I was competing against and one of my teammates said, “the only thing you should focus on is the black line at the bottom of the pool.”
When you’re swimming, the black line is the path that guides you in the right direction. In other words, this phrase means to focus on yourself rather than on others and what they think.
Tell us about your preparation for the upcoming Paralympic Games.
I can’t believe that we are already in the final week of training. It’s been a long year and a half with Canadian sports being shut down more so than other places. Since we had nowhere to go, this forced me to focus even more on swimming. With no racing opportunities, my goals were different and I paid more attention to details. I stayed motivated by envisioning the year not as a mountain but as a staircase to go up, step by step.
What does Pursuing Greatness look like to you?
It’s all about the small details and decisions I make every day so that I can be the best version of myself. This includes things like the food I eat and how much water I drink, to the number of hours I train and sleep. These are all small victories.
Tell us about your partnership with Wayne Gretzky Estates.
It’s nice to know that I am supported by a local brand and that people at home are supporting me and cheering me on. When it comes to Wayne Gretzky Estates, we both have the same set of values and are working towards the same goals even though we are on different paths.
How do you plan on celebrating when you return from Tokyo?
Trying out Wayne Gretzky Estates products! I will spend time sharing wine with friends, which is something I haven’t done in a year. I am looking forward to sitting down, stress-free, and enjoying an evening where I talk about more than just swimming.
We can’t wait to watch you compete, good luck!