Aly throwing snow in the air.

Aly’s secret to shortbread cookies

When 17-year-old Aly isn’t training for any upcoming competitions you’ll often find her in the kitchen baking cookies. 

For this Paralympian, the secret to really good shortbread cookies is to add extra vanilla.

It’s one of her favourite activities during the holidays, along with spending time with her family singing Johnny Appleseed loudly at the top of their lungs before popping open some confetti crackers.

One of her fondest memories, in particular, happened one Christmas Day.

“It snowed a lot, so my cousins and I, we built this ramp of snow you sled down. And my aunt’s dog was also outside, so each time we would go down the hill, the dog would try to ‘save and stop us,’” she says.

“That was really cute.”

And while Aly is excitedly looking forward to this year’s holiday festivities, there’s one other stark memory that’s currently sticking out: placing at London 2019 World Para Swimming Allianz Championships

Just keep swimming

Aly, who has cerebral palsy, says Holland Bloorview has provided her a friendly environment to just be who she is.

Growing up, the competitive swimmer was also a student at Bloorview School Authority—the hospital’s on-site school.

And while years have passed since she roamed the halls for class, she still visits regularly for occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and appointments at the hypertonia clinic.

For her, what makes the hospital so special is the people.

Seeing all my old practitioners or therapists or teachers, ten years later is pretty fun,” she says.

She also credits the swimming lessons she took in the hospital’s therapeutic pool to be fun—jokingly adding that’s how her career started.

“As a younger kid, I did swim recreationally, but my friends actually were on a swim team and I really wanted to just join them,” she says.

“It started out just for fun and then it kind of turned into something a bit more competitive.”

And competitive she is.

During her debut at the London 2019 World Para Swimming Allianz Championships‎, Aly set an Americas and Canadian record to win a silver medal in the women’s 100m backstroke. She also won a bronze in the 50m backstroke.

“It was the first time I was on a senior national team, those championships have been a huge confidence boost,” she says.

Next up, she’s setting her sights on winning gold in the Paralympics.

She is in the running to compete at Tokyo 2020, after all. 

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