P.E.I. para-swimmers set sights on the Paralympics

P.E.I. now has two para-swimmers competing at the international level, and they've both set their eyes on a pretty major prize: making Canada’s Paralympic Team and representing their country on the world stage.

'They're proud of each other. They're really each other's booster club'

Hannah MacLellan and Greg Morrison are both aiming to some day represent Canada at the Paralympic Games. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

P.E.I. now has two para-swimmers competing at the international level, and they've both set their eyes on a pretty major prize: making Canada's Paralympic Team and representing their country on the world stage.

Greg Morrison, 15, travelled to his first international competition earlier this month, to the Can Am Paraswimming Championships in North Dakota.

They're proud of each other. They're really each other's booster club. — Coach Edie Rogers

"Moving to the international level was a big change … Everything's a lot more intense," he said.

"It's a reality check because … some people with a worse disability than me could swim ten seconds faster.

"It's pretty incredible how well they can do even with their disability."

Hannah MacLellan and Greg Morrison, P.E.I. para-swimmers, wearing their Bluephin team colours at the CanAms in North Dakota.

'He usually beats me'

His Charlottetown Bluephins teammate, 16-year-old Hannah MacLellan, first represented Canada at a para-swimming meet in the U.S. last year, so she was able to show him the ropes at his first big meet.

"I introduced him to a lot of Paralympians," she said with a smile. 

MacLellan and Morrison have a lot in common. They're both high school students at Charlottetown Rural. They were both born with cerebral palsy. And they now share a passion for competitive swimming.

"They're proud of each other," said coach Edie Rogers. "They're really each other's booster club."

There is also a friendly competition between the swimmers, who occasionally race in practice.

"He usually beats me but I still try to race him," said MacLellan.

Morrison's mother, Janice, said swimming alongside MacLellan has served as an inspiration.

"Just to see her determination and to know that she's gotten there … Now Greg knows that, 'Okay, she's made it to that level so I can do the same,'" she said.

Coach Edie Rogers is 'thrilled' to have two international competitors from P.E.I. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

'What she has achieved is amazing'

Rogers is thrilled to have two swimmers from P.E.I. competing on the international stage, and wants to see the team grow.

"My dream is to have half a dozen kids going with me to the international level."

MacLellan hopes to make Team Canada at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo and bring home a Paralympic medal in 2024.

Morrison's next challenge? Meeting the qualifying times at the Team Canada Paralympic qualifiers in April in Toronto. But he ultimately hopes to join his teammate in 2020.

"What she has achieved is amazing," he said.

"As soon as I can get to that stage of performance, I plan to be up there competing for Canada with her."

Hannah MacLellan and Greg Morrison doing laps at practice at the CARI pool in Charlottetown. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

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