Written by Veronica Noronha
2020 is a record-breaking year for Tessa Cieplucha, Canadian swimmer and there is so much more to come for this young athlete.
Cieplucha is becoming a familiar face on the international competition stage, starting with her first appearance at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. For some, this level of competition can be daunting but Cieplucha committed to getting the most out of the experience whether it was doing her best time in the pool, exploring new surroundings or meeting people from all over the world. She credits familiar faces from her school – the University of Tennessee – and her Canadian teammates for giving her comfort and calming her nerves. This allowed her to focus on delivering the best possible outcome. And it paid off. Cieplucha swam away with a gold medal in the 400-metre Medley! This extremely challenging category is her speciality and admittedly, she has a love-hate relationship with it. Understandable, given that it includes four different styles of swimming: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle in one heat.
After an outstanding performance in Lima, Cieplucha is determined to reducing her time each time she competes. In fact, this is what drives her. In October 2020, she set two provincial records in the 200 metre Butterfly and five Markham Aquatic Club records at the International Swimming League (ISL) competition in Budapest, Hungary. “It was a good surprise and it is really cool,” she humbly says. She goes on to say that her performance is not only about building her record but equally important, being an example for the generation coming up behind her. It is not often we see this level of altruism from rising athletic stars. Cieplucha clearly exemplifies the qualities of a leader.
Cieplucha’s record-breaking performance comes at an unprecedented time, amid a world-wide pandemic, which started in March 2020. Athletes are faced with unique challenges with schools shuttering, and training, competitions and events grinding to a halt. Cieplucha says, “it was a shock to the system at first,” and forced creative thinking to find ways to continue training. Cieplucha feels fortunate to have a backyard pool which became her training ground, coupled with dryland training, until things started to open up again. Being resourceful, she also reached out to her former coach Sean Baker who currently heads up the coaching staff at the Markham Aquatic Club. Cieplucha joined the club for training in July at the Markham Pan Am Centre, a high-performance sport facility with a 10-lane Olympic size pool. This was a tremendous help to Cieplucha in her prep for the upcoming season. She felt safe from day one at the Pan Am Centre and acknowledges, “the facility has a lot of protocols in place for everyone’s safety.” She found the pool to be top-quality and one of the nicest she has ever been in.
This young athlete is preparing to graduate University in May 2021 with a double major in environmental studies and geography. With a degree under her swim cap, she will be back home training at the Markham Pam Am Centre for Olympic trials, all the while planning to go to grad school.
The Markham Pan Am Centre is honoured to host Cieplucha, another young rising Canadian athlete. We will be following her career for a long while to come and wish her continued success in the pool and in life!