(Photo Credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee)
SEVEN YEARS THAT CHANGED HER LIFE FOREVER
At the age of 19, a few months after graduating from high school, para-swimmer Danielle Kisser made a life-changing decision to leave her native British Columbia and move across the country to Montréal.
Kisser wasn’t going to compete in the Rio Paralympics, and she wanted to do everything in her power to make sure she made it to Tokyo a few years later. Getting involved with the Institut national du sport du Québec was, she believes, a first step in the right direction.
“It was August 2016, just before the Rio Games, I hadn’t managed to qualify for those Games. I knew that INS Québec was the best option for me, it was a golden opportunity to have access to a high-performance training center in para-swimming. I needed a change in my career, and it was the perfect time to come to Montréal,” she explained.
“I needed to be in an environment that would help me get to the next level. It’s motivating to be around athletes with similar goals every day.”
Danielle Kisser and Sarah White bump fists at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee
Kisser quickly adapted to her new life on Québec soil, having studied linguistics at Concordia University and already had a small grounding in French before arriving in Montréal thanks to her years of French concentration in high school.
“As soon as I arrived in Montréal and at INS Québec, I felt really special to receive so much support. All the professionals at the Institute made me feel like part of a big family. I was never alone in achieving my goals,” says Kisser.
Danielle Kisser finally achieved her Olympic goal in Tokyo in the summer of 2021, competing in the 100 m breaststroke (SB6) and the 4 x 100 m medley relay. A feat which, she says, would have been difficult to achieve without the Institute’s support.
“At INS Québec, we have access to a range of services that really goes beyond what we could wish for. Every professional who has crossed my path has had a positive effect not only on my career, but also on my life,” she noted.
These Paralympic Games came at a time of great uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there were some difficult moments for Danielle Kisser during the pandemic, INS Québec’s work to put athletes at the top of its priority list made all the difference.
“While everything was closed, INS Québec did an incredible job of enabling athletes to continue training and working towards their goals. Being in a stable environment during this period made a big difference in getting me to the Tokyo Games,” she added.
Seven years after arriving in Montréal, Danielle Kisser announced her retirement with a head full of incredible memories of both INS Québec and the Québec metropolis. The Paralympian has returned home to British Columbia, but she will never forget the importance the Institut national du sport du Québec has had on her career and her life.
“Seven years ago, I didn’t really know what my body needed to make me a better athlete. Thanks to INS Québec, I’ve learned a lot about nutrition, rehabilitation and mental health. I’ve certainly become a more complete athlete thanks to all these services.”
“Montréal is one of the most beautiful cities in the world! It’s a welcoming and inclusive city, everyone always seems to have a good time in Montréal. It’s very different from the West Coast, and I feel blessed to have been able to live here in my early twenties,” concluded Danielle Kisser.
Kisser will be in Montréal in May to cheer on her former national team mates at the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Trials. But for now, she’ll be taking a break from the pools to explore new challenges in her personal life.