Stephanie Dixon

Stephanie Dixon

Stephane Dixon of Victoria, B.C. on the podium with her silver medal in women's 400 metre freestyle at the swimming finals at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, Friday, Sept., 12, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS CPC/Mike Ridewood

Quick Facts

BORN February 10, 1984
RESIDENCE Whitehorse, YK
COACHES Ron Jacks, Peter Vizsolyi, Rob Wallenius, Bill O’Toole, Byron MacDonald

  • Three-time Paralympian & 19-time Paralympic medalist
    • Gold 2000 Paralympic Games Sydney, Australia S9 100-m Freestyle
    • Gold 2000 Paralympic Games Sydney, Australia S9 400-m Freestyle
    • Gold 2000 Paralympic Games Sydney, Australia S9 100-m Backstroke
    • Gold 2000 Paralympic Games Sydney, Australia S9 4×100-m Freestyle Relay
    • Gold 2000 Paralympic Games Sydney, Australia S9 4×100-m Medley Relay 34 pts
    • Gold 2004 Paralympic Games Athens, Greece S9 100-m Backstroke
    • Gold 2008 Paralympic Games Beijing, China S9 100-m Backstroke

By Jim Morris

The time Stephanie Dixon spent in the water as an athlete helped shape the person she became later in life.

The decorated Paralympic swimmer believes the lessons she learned training and competing laid the foundation for a successful career.

“It’s really not about the medals and the best times, it’s about the person that you have become in the process,” said Dixon. “You don’t take your gold medals or your best times with you into a job interview, or into situations with conflict or dealing with your family. You take the skills and the traits that you learned.”

Dixon competed at three Paralympic Games, winning 19 medals, including seven gold, and set the world record in the S9 100-metre backstroke. For her, being inducted into Swimming Canada’s Circle of Excellence is a homecoming.

“Swimming was such a huge part of my life for so many years,” said the Brampton, Ont., native. “I learned about the kind of person I wanted to be, about determination, about hard work, about setting goals.”

Dixon, who was born missing her right leg and hip, began swimming lessons when she was two. At 13 she started competing against able-bodied athletes. By 14 she had made Canada’s national team for swimmers with a disability.

In September 2003 she enrolled in psychology at the University of Victoria to pursue her swimming career. She trained under coaches Ron Jacks and Peter Vizsolyi at Pacific Coast Swimming and UVic. Dixon competed at the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Paralympics. At the 2007 Parapan American Games in Rio de Janeiro she won six gold and a silver. One of her prized memories is winning her first gold medal in the 400-m freestyle at the Sydney Games. It followed a disappointing silver in the 200-m individual medley.

“I had to overcome a lot of personal struggle and insecurity to get there,” said Dixon. “My parents were there, my coaches and my teammates. Knowing they were all behind me, I was able to get back on track.”

After retiring from swimming Dixon moved to Whitehorse, where she coaches swimming and works as a fitness expert. She was Team Canada’s assistant chef de mission during the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games. While proud of her personal success, Dixon is gratified with the role she played in the evolution of Paralympic sports.

“When I went to my first Games I wouldn’t say the average Canadian knew what Paralympic sport was,” she said. “Now, most Canadians are aware of Paralympic sport and our athletes.”