Different Strokes

Larry Moko
Fri Apr 15 2011

World champion swimmer Summer Mortimer of Ancaster says she owes her success to her father, Craig.

A 17-year-old student at Westmount Secondary School, Summer received an Ontario Sport Award earlier this week in Toronto for Female Athlete with a Disability of the Year. At that same event, hosted by the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport and the Sport Alliance of Ontario, Craig lost out to track and field’s Anthony McCleary in the Male Coach of the Year category.

“My dad is the sole reason I’m swimming as well as I am,” Summer said. “He has coached me since I was little. He’s always been my coach. He drives me around everywhere. He writes my practices. He does everything.”

Both are scheduled to be involved in this weekend’s Ontario Division II championships at Brantford’s Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.

Summer represents Ducks Swimming in Aurora, where Craig is a part-time coach. Dad has coached and taught competitive swimming at all levels for over 20 years. He coached Summer to eight gold medals and eight world records at the IPC World Swimming Championships in the Netherlands and the win in Etobicoke.

Summer was an able-bodied swimmer until a few years ago. That’s when she shattered bones in both feet while taking part in a competitive trampoline event. She spent months in a wheelchair and her feet are now held in place with plates and screws.

“My parents (Craig and Janice) were both up in the viewing area and saw how it happened,” Summer said of her injury at a local gymnastics centre.

In her return to the pool, the former Hamilton Aquatic Club and Golden Horseshoe Aquatic Club member says her dad had to “re-teach” her the stroke techniques and how to adjust to the loss of range in motion in her flippers. It’s now more of a hip-driven propulsion.

“I don’t train the same way I used to. Some days my feet are good and some days they are bad. Sometimes they lock out on me and I can’t move them. So it’s basically just adjusting the workouts to what my body can handle on a day-to-day basis. Flip turns and kicking off the wall are painful.”

The S-10 she competes in is the lowest for the physically disabled.

“As hard as it is, having a dad as a coach is the best thing for me,” Summer said. “I might be stubborn, and we might fight constantly, but he understands
what I need. It’s frustrating for him knowing that I can’t do things some days. It frustrates me as well. But we work together.”

Summer, who was introduced to the Para system by her friend, mentor and former McMaster University world-record swimmer Chelsey Gotell, has upcoming meets in Ohio, Quebec and Nepean before the Pan-Pacific Games this August in Edmonton. She also hopes to compete at the London Paralympic Games of 2012 and the Pan/Parapan American Games when they come to Southern Ontario in 2015.

Craig, incidentally, won both the Swim Ontario and Swimming Canada Male Para Coach of the Year in 2010. In addition, he received a Petro Canada Coaching Excellence Award.

“My dad does a lot of coaching. More than just coaching me,” Summer said.



Reproduced from http://www.thespec.com/sports/article/517911–different-strokes