Newfoundland and Labrador swimmer Erica Noonan of Stephenville, wearing her two Canada Games silver medals won on Thursday, poses with Canadian Paralympic swimmer Benoit Huot at the CARI Aquatic Complex on the University of Prince Edwad Island campus Thursday night in Charlottetown. Noonan won the medals in the womens SWAD (swimmers with a disability) 100-metre breaststroke and 100-metre butterfly earlier in the evening. Huot is a particular hero of Noonans. Photo by Brendan McCarthy/The Telegram
The two silver medals she won Thursday night and any other medals she might win today might just turn out to be Canada Games bonus prizes for Newfoundland and Labrador swimmer Erica Noonan.
What the 18 -year-old from Stephenville will probably treasure most is how she was made to feel part of a team and not like the conclusion to a "one of these is not like the others" rhyme.
Noonan is a swimmer with a disability (SWAD), born without the lower part of her right arm. But despite this, she has never been shy about trying things. She succeeds in school, she plays the piano, she plays the French horn, she skis and she works the cash at the Canadian Tire gas bar in Stephenville.
When asked if she's found anything she can't do, her answer is "No." When asked if she figures there is anything that is not worth the effort in trying, her "No" is just definitive.
"I haven't found anything yet that can stop me. I've always learned to adapt. If there is something difficult, I can always practise," said Noonan, who won the medals in the 100-metre butterfly and 100-metre breaststroke at the CARI Aquatic Centre.
"You can always work out a way."
But what did concern Noonan, if only a little bit, was how she would be accepted by the rest of the Newfoundland and Labrador swim team.
For the greater part of the two years she has been a competitive swimmer, she has worked out alone without a coach. She never was part of a team.
But when she became a Games athlete, she discovered that no matter she might be missing, her fellow swimmers would make her feel completely accepted.
"I was just not sure, I guess, about how it would be," said Noonan. "But as soon as we came together, it was easy to see how supportive everyone is of each other. I've seen how supportive they are of me and how happy they are for me. And I'm so happy to be part of Team Newfoundland."