Now the 'grandma' of Canada's para swim team, N.L.'s Katarina Roxon is still setting records
At 29 years old, Para Swimmer Katarina Roxon of Kippens, N.L., isn't the youngest fish in the water anymore.
"Everyone on the national team calls me Grandma, 'cause they're all so much younger," Roxon said with a laugh during an interview Thursday.
"I think the next youngest behind me is 26 … and I think the very youngest on the team is 17. It's nice to be that role model and mentor for them knowing that I've had so many years of experience."
Despite being a grizzled veteran by swimming standards, Roxon said she's more motivated than ever to perform in the pool, after helping Canada snag 18 medals at the World Para Swimming Championships in Portugal earlier this month.
Roxon finished third in the women's 100-metre breaststroke SB8 final, finishing with a time of 1:24.48. The medal is her fifth win at a world championship.
Two hours after that race, she set a new Canadian record in the women's 50-metre freestyle S9 with a time of 31.03 seconds.
"I was aiming for that, but I wasn't expecting it. So I was very happy with how the meet ended off," she said.
After performing below expectations in the Tokyo Games, Roxon took a break from the pool that she says allowed her to refocus and put things into perspective.
"I've been doing this sport for 17 years.… I needed a reset to kind of figure out what I wanted to do. Whether it was leave the sport on that note, or come back to the sport or step into a new journey," she said.
"It helped me to digest everything, and it honestly helped me come back even stronger to the pool."
Roxon said she felt she was peaking at the right time heading into the world championship following the Games, crediting the work of her coach — who is also her father — and the readiness to bounce back to performing at a high level.
"I knew deep down in my heart that I didn't want to end it off like that," she said.
"I got myself back up and decided, 'You know what, Katarina? You're going to fight. You're going to be better than what you showed in Tokyo.' And I think that's starting to prove right."
Roxon is now back home for three weeks before she travels to France with the national team. The group are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, which will be Roxon's fourth trip to the Commonwealth Games.