Stephanie Dixon wants to share her passions for life, sport and being active with as many people as possible. That influence will spread even more now after the para-swimming star was recently inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The 12-year national swim team member, born missing her right leg, collected 19 medals (including seven gold) in three Paralympic Games appearances (2000, 2004, 2008). She is a 10-time world champion and two-time Commonwealth Games medalist. Dixon broke several world records and still holds the S9 200-m backstroke world mark.
“I turned into a little mermaid when my parents put me into the swimming pool,” said Dixon, 32, born in Brampton, Ont., and now residing in Whitehorse, Yukon. “My leg became a tail. On land I was with crutches or a prosthesis but in the water I just flew. It was freedom.”
That feeling of freedom ignited a passion for Dixon not only for swimming but for success in life as well. As she puts it, “it allowed me to stand on my own foot. I have an older brother who doesn’t have a disability and my parents decided they were going to raise me the same way and allow me to figure things out on my own.”
Her brother Matt says Stephanie’s disability was irrelevant in the family household. “She could always do what I could do,” he said. “There’s never a sense of boundary or limitation on her.”
Dixon’s national swim team teammate Elisabeth Walker-Young witnessed first-hand that fiery passion. “Being on the national team for 12 years and the years leading up is a long haul,” said Walker-Young. “You have to stay dedicated, stay focused and think high performance. It’s physically demanding but to stay mentally committed is the biggest challenge.”
“It all comes down to loving what you are doing,” added Dixon. “It makes it a lot easier to push through the hard times.” Dixon was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame with CFL star Mike “Pinball” Clemons, short track speed skater Annie Perreault, Dr. Frank Hayden, curler Colleen Jones, cross country skier and cyclist Sue Holloway and NHL star Bryan Trottier.
Today Dixon continues to be a champion of Paralympic sport as a broadcaster, keynote speaker and mentor. She was Canada’s assistant Chef de Mission at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto and a member of the CBC broadcast team at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.