Windsor swimmer wins 6 medals at World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships

Julia Lane (middle) celebrating her victory in the 100m butterfly at this year's World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships. Lane won six of Canada's seven medals at the event.  (Submitted by Brian Lane - image credit)
Julia Lane (middle) celebrating her victory in the 100m butterfly at this year's World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships. Lane won six of Canada's seven medals at the event. (Submitted by Brian Lane - image credit)

Julia Lane set the world of para swimming alight with her display at this year's World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships.

Of the seven medals won by Canadian swimmers, the Windsor athlete won six.

She captured gold in the 50-metre and 100-metre butterfly events, silver in the 50-metre freestyle and bronze in the 100-metre, 200-metre and 800-metre freestyle events. And she was the only female Canadian swimmer to make the podium.

"I am proud of my times and how I represented Canada," she said.

Lane is also proud of representing Windsor on the international stage.

"This is my home," she said. "I joined a swimming club here. I train here."

Lane caught the swimming bug after watching her sister swim when she was younger. Her career began in 2014 with private coaching Jodi Cortese of the Windsor Aquatic Club.

She then joined the LaSalle Windsor Special Olympics swimming team, a program she still swims with alongside swimming with the Windsor Aquatic Club as a para swimmer. Her mother, Cynthia, who is also the president of the Canadian Down Syndrome Swimming Association, said her career has been supported by herself and her husband, Brian.

"We've basically built a team to support Julia," Cynthia said. "From the nutritionist to the swim practices and private coaching. We got her engaged in CrossFit to make her stronger just so she'd have that opportunity at the World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships."

Brian's and Cynthia's determination to see Julia succeed saw them create a GoFundMe page that raised $3,825. Cynthia said the support was very humbling.

"It was very touching that everybody wanted to give what they could in her efforts to make it to the podium."

Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder where an extra copy of a chromosome causes developmental changes and physical features of the syndrome.

Julia says it doesn't stop her, and she wants others to know that they can also succeed.

"Put in the work and try your best," she said. "If somebody has Down [Syndrome], they can always swim."

Julia is now aiming to compete in the 2024 World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships, which are set to take place in Antalya, Turkey. Her accomplishments have made her parents proud.

"She's the star," Cynthia said of her daughter. "She puts the time in. She's such a fierce competitor. I'm in awe that she can do this. When she was born, I never anticipated that we would be here today."

"She's risen above any challenges and to be able to go to a meet such as the World Championships with her peers is the icing on the cake."