Aly White wasn’t expecting to leave the B.C. Summer Games Special Olympics with nine medals, let alone gold ones.
The Saanich swimmer swept the competition in nine events of the July games, all while nursing an ankle injury she’d suffered just a week prior. White, who has ADHD, twisted her foot from a fall off a horse during a session of equestrian vaulting.
“She sprained her ankle really badly and we weren’t sure if she was going to be able to go,” said White’s mom, Ingrid. “We got her to physio. She limped all the weekend, but she was fine in the pool.”
Even with the sprain, White excelled in the water, taking the women’s 50m freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke; the 100m freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and individual medley; and the 200m freestyle.
“I just got in the zone. I tried my best – maybe I tried a little too much,” said White with a laugh.
White said she enjoyed the challenge of the butterfly and picked out the 200m freestyle as one of her favourite races, as she’s more accustomed to long-distance swimming.
“[Sweeping the competition] was one of my goals, but I didn’t think it would happen this time,” she said. “After I was done, I was like, ‘Wow, I actually got all gold. I don’t know what to do.’”
Not bad for someone who initially had a fear of water when she first came to Canada.
“When I adopted Aly from Romania, she was petrified of water,” said Ingrid. “As soon as I could get her used to water, I tried to get her in a pool. It took a little while, but now you can’t keep her out of the water.”
“It’s addicting,” said White with a smile.
White thanked her coaches for pushing her and helping her improve to her current level. The nine gold medals from this year’s Games add to her 2014 B.C. Summer Games medals, which include three golds, four silvers and a bronze.
“It’s important to have the right coaches that know what they’re doing and how to improve for strokes and turns and starts,” said White.
Following her exceptional performance at the B.C. Summer Games, White is looking to get back in the water this August – this time at Cowichan Lake for a 10-kilometre swim.
And while she may have a disability, White said she’s not letting that weigh her down.
“Everybody has a gold medal in their heart,” she said. “Everybody can do it.”