Shanise Ryan-Donegan, Danielle Campo McLeod, Daniela MastsipaniukFirst-year kinesiology students Shanise Ryan-Donegan and Daniela Mastsipaniuk flank champion Paralympian swimmer Danielle Campo McLeod following her address Tuesday in the Human Kinetics Building.

Paralympic champion swimmer spreads message of positivity

About 175 kinesiology students heard from Paralympic champion swimmer Danielle Campo McLeod on Tuesday at the invitation of the Human Kinetics Equity committee in support of the campus-wide Revive and Thrive Week.

Campo McLeod, who is now director of operations for Muscular Dystrophy Canada, won a total of seven Paralympic medals — three gold, two silver, two bronze — and held seven world records over her competitive swimming career.

Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of two, Campo McLeod found swimming more than therapeutic.

“In the water, I had no limits and could aspire to greatness,” she told students.

By the age of 13, she had already broken four world records. She had become a multi-Paralympic gold medalist by the age of 15 and had sponsors dropping off free vehicles — before she was old enough to drive.

However, she said, her story is one of perseverance, positivity, and self-love.

“I am not going to be the fastest swimmer in the pool,” Campo McLeod said, discussing her training with able-bodied swimmers. “I am going to be the best version of myself as a swimmer.”

Professor Vicky Paraschak, who helped arrange the swimmer’s visit, said she loved Campo McLeod’s presentation.

“Danielle is a role model for strengths perspective in action,” said Dr. Paraschak. “She spreads her positive message of striving to enhance personal strength around the country.

“More importantly, Danielle showed the students in attendance that it was OK to ask for help — something that we always preach in HK and in my classrooms.”

Since retiring from competitive swimming, Campo McLeod completed a degree in social work at the University of Windsor (BSW 2013). She was named to the Windsor Essex Sports Hall of Fame and a Terry Fox Humanitarian of the Year and received both the Queen Elizabeth Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals.

—Ryan Donally

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