Amy Leighton’s neck might have been a little sore after the 2014 North American Indigenous Games wrapped up in Regina, Saskatchewan in late July.
But it wouldn’t have been from her nine swimming events.
The diagnosis may be due to the mixture of the nine gold (three), silver (five) and bronze (one) medals Leighton was proudly burdened with around her neck after an astounding showing at the games.
“It was a good experience,” said Leighton last week.
“It was a whole different experience [than provincials and the B.C. Summer Games].”
As a result of her travels, Leighton (13) has spent more time underwater than above it this summer, save for the thousands of kilometres she’s spent on a plane going to Victoria (provincials), Nanaimo (summer games) and Regina.
“I sort of figured out [that I’d be going] when it was happening in Regina and my parents really wanted me to go,” said the Rupertite.
But she never expected to medal in every category she entered. In Leighton’s web profile on the games’ site, she lists her cousin, Sarah McChesney, as her personal role model. McChesney has found success with the Prince Rupert Amateur Swim Club (PRASC), headed by Chris Street and was arguably the top performer of the group in 2013-14.
Leighton wants to pick up where McChesney left off, as the latter departs for Thompson Rivers University this fall.
“She is an inspiration to me and I want to become a great swimmer just like her,” said Leighton on the site.
There wasn’t a regional meet where Leighton didn’t medal this past year, but for her, gaining a fresh set of eyes to critique her swimming to become even stronger was top of mind for the athlete always looking to improve.
“It was a good experience to have a different coach to see what, besides Chris, they see in my strokes,” she said.
Despite her individual accomplishments, Leighton enjoyed the relay races the most, taking part in a team of four, competing with Smithers’ Monica Joseph, whom Leighton knew prior to the games, and B.C.’s Jamie Hutton and Sallee Whitewing. The team grabbed three silver medals together.
“The relays are the most fun because you’re all working together as a team and you want to win,” said Leighton.
Her breaststroke was her strongest category as Leighton took all three of her gold medals in the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke divisions.
“I used to not like it, but I’ve sort of gotten the hang of it and now it’s my favourite.”
And with Leighton’s parents, it’s safe to say the swimmer’s bountiful haul will be placed with her countless other medals and achievements.
“They were very proud,” said Leighton.