Fourteen-year-old Kieran Stewart’s passion for swimming has transferred over into another athletic endeavour – running. Stewart recently won the Waterloo County Secondary School Athletics Association (WCSSAA) cross country championship in her 4,000-metre midget division, besting some 50 competitors.
Her time of 16:24.01 beat out the runner-up by more than nine seconds.
She managed to finish first at this race despite making a wrong turn at one point during the race and having to backtrack to find her path again. This competition was just one of many she has attended and excelled in over the past few months.
“Kieran is no stranger to hard work and competing,” said her mother, Susan Stewart. “She is a competitive swimmer, training six days a week, and in the pool seven times a week – twice on Wednesdays and three mornings a week is up at 4:30 a.m. to be in the pool in Waterloo from 5:30-7:30 a.m.”
On October 25, Kieran participated in the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association (CWOSSA) cross-country running event at Bechtel Park in Waterloo. She finished sixth out of 126 participants.
“She has a commitment and dedication to sport in general. What I noticed about her is that she’s very humble,” said Amanda Groothuis, an EDSS cross-country coach. “She’s also just willing to put the work in. The cross-training allows her to be successful.”
She also competed in the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) in Dundas this past weekend. The event features specific participants from each region, where she was the only runner out of six from Elmira to qualify. She finished 18th out of 269 participants, running just under a seven-minute mile on average. Her total race time was 17:01.9 at the event.
Swimming has also been a long-time passion for Kieran since she was very young. Running became another athletic outlet, with her passion for it starting along with the school year in September. With cross country all finished up, she has now joined the EDSS swim team. Not only is Kieran a part of the high school team, but she also has started her seventh season of the Club Warriors competitive swim team in Waterloo.
Despite her substantial time commitment to athletics, Kieran also manages to balance this with her school work and maintain excellent grades.
“We’re very proud of her,” said her father, Keith Stewart. “Kieran has accomplished a lot over the last couple years. She graduated from Park Manor this past year, and she won the Canadian Youth Leadership Award, which was pretty special. She also cleaned up the academic awards at the school. She’s a very talented girl.”
She has travelled far to pursue her passion for athletics, having previously gone to Winnipeg in July for the Canadian junior championships for swimming.
“Kieran did most of the running on her own,” said Groothuis. “She’s the kid that comes to practice, and she’s ready to go every time. She’s coming in fit; she’s coming in mentally tough. She is a strong athlete overall, and she’s just willing to put the work in.”