Shameera Rosal has been a fish since birth, her mother says.
The 21-year-old Lake Country resident took home a silver medal last week in her 50-metre freestyle swimming competition during the 2018 Special Olympics National Summer Games.
“It’s kinda like my therapy,” Shameera said. “It’s not only my physical therapy, it’s my mental and emotional therapy in a way. It makes me feel good.”
“I definitely feel very free, like I can do anything,” she said.
Born with mobility issues due to a chromosome abnormality, her mother, Assunta Rosal, said she began swimming at a few months old.
“The water has been her haven, her passion, her place to be normal and included and part of things,” Assunta said.
The family often went swimming in Okanagan Lake.
“When she was little, like three or four years old, she would do these dives and people on the side of the beach asking ‘is she OK? Is she coming up?’ They couldn’t believe how long she could stay underwater. She’s been a swimmer since pretty much day one,” she said.
Shameera has been a part of Team Canada, with other Kelowna swimmers, since she was eight years old. She swims in Kelowna four days a week, and trains in other areas using weights and a stationary bike.
Her efforts paid off at this year’s summer games.
“It feels great to win at least one medal,” she said, and she plans to keep a rigorous training schedule to eventually compete at the Special Olympics World Games.
Despite the pressure at nationals, Shameera said she wasn’t nervous. More than 1,000 athletes competed during the event, held in Nova Scotia from July 31 to Aug. 4.
“She was the calming force in the room,” Assunta said.
Shameera also competed in the 100 m backstroke, placing fifth, the 50 m backstroke, placing fourth and the 100 m freestyle where she came in fourth, but set personal records in all her swims, Assunta said.
And there’s no rhyme or reason why she excels in the freestyle events.
“I have no idea, I just do well,” Shamerra said.
Shameera’s coach, Shane McLeod said it was exciting to see the swimmers earning medals at the event.
“I’m very happy for them,” he said. Shameera was one of There were 24 athletes from the Special Olympics Kelowna Local team who competed at the games.
McLeod described Shameera as cheerful and game for anything.
“She’ll try it all and give her best. She has a real go-getter attitude and never says no,” he said.
McLeod said Shameera excels with her stamina.
When she’s not in the pool, she’s working at her part-time job at Dairy Queen in Lake Country, attending university in the Steps Forward program at UBCO and working with her art, where her creations are abstract and left up to her imagination.