Saskatoon para-swimmer and world record holder set to visit her old school

Shelby Newkirk, now a world para-swimming record-holder, will be speaking to students at Silverwood Elementary next week about how to overcome obstacles.

Shelby Newkirk set world record this week at Para-swimming Canadian Open

Shelby Newkirk has her sights set on competing for Canada at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (Submitted by Bob Baker)

After setting a world record at the Para-swimming Canadian Open in Toronto on Tuesday, Newkirk will be speaking to students at her former elementary school, Saskatoon's Silverwood Elementary next week.

"It's going to be really cool to be able to talk to the kids and be able to return to my elementary school, because I haven't been there for so long," Newkirk told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning on Friday.

On Tuesday, the 21-year-old broke German Kirsten Bruhn's record by swimming the S7 100-metre backstroke in one minute, 21.43 seconds.

"I was exhausted, and so excited, and it was just all the emotions at once," she said. "I don't even know if it clicked in yet until after the fact that my parents came down on deck."

Shelby Newkirk of Saskatoon set a world record Tuesday at the Para-swimming Canadian Open in Toronto. (Swim Canada)

Overcoming obstacles

Life hasn't always felt victorious for Newkirk. When she was 13 she was diagnosed with dystonia — a state of uncommon muscle tone which causes abnormal posture and muscle spasms.

"[It] was a big turning point in my life," she said. "I had to quit the sports that I was doing, and I was kind of lost."

Next Wednesday, when Newkirk speaks to Silverwood Elementary students, she hopes to encourage them to "just smile through whatever life throws at you."

She acknowledged life can change in an instant, and in the event of that happening, youth should be prepared to adapt quickly.

"I just really want to talk about finding something that's important to [them]," she said. "Something they can put their heart into."

Newkirk continues to train and hopes to compete in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning