Depippo’s road to the Paralympics underway

Cranbrook swimmer competing at Can-Am Para-Swimming Championships in Edmonton; next step — next year's Parapan in Toronto.

Jennifer Depippo trains at the Cranbrook Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook.

Jennifer Depippo trains at the Cranbrook Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook.

After a year of intense training a Cranbrook athlete’s ambition to make Canada’s Paralympic team for Brazil 2016 is making forward progress.

Swimmer Jennifer Depippo will be competing in the Can-Am Para-Swimming Championships in Edmonton, Dec. 5-7.

“The Can-Am Games are a step towards the Pan-Am Games,” Depippo said.

The Para-Pan American Games, which will follow the Pan-American Games in Toronto of 2015, are the next step towards the Paralympics in Brazil.

The Can-Am games feature athletes from Canada and the U.S. All swimmers who meet published time standards in their classifications are eligible to compete.

Depippo’s specialty is the 400-metre freestyle. The standard for her classification is seven minutes and 54 seconds (7:54). Depippo hammered the time in her qualification swim — seven minutes and 39 seconds. “And I’m just getting faster,” she said. “The other day I swam it in seven minutes and 30 seconds.”

For the competition, every swimmer is ranked from one to 10, based on how their disability affects their stroke, and how it effects their movement through the water. Depippo herself sustained a brain injury as a child in a car accident. But she has battled back from her disability to create a life, even writing a book about it — “An Unexpected Miracle: Conquering Brain Injury.”

She has been training seriously in the pool for more than a year, starting in August, 2013.

“I told my coach, no one can stop me,” she said. “Just try it — no one will.”

In Edmonton, Depippo will be competing in the 400 metre freestyle, the 100 metre freestyle, “and I’d like to see what I can do with the 800 metre.”

Competitors are guaranteed three races.

“I can do up to seven races (in Edmonton),” she said. “I think right now I’ll do only three.”

Depippo is training with local swimming coach Dave Chisholm and personal trainer Olivia Besanger.

Jennifer Depippo is looking for sponsorship to help defray the costs of travel, training and competition. “It would be nice to have the support of the community,” she said. “I’m the first Paralympian in the history of Cranbrook.”

Depippo said everything is possible if one has the will.

“I have the motivation and determination to prove to myself and to others that I can do it.”

If you’re interested in sponsoring Depippo in her Can-Am, Parapan and Paralympic quest, contact her at depippo.jennifer@gmail.com.