Madison Neufeld is not your typical 13-year-old girl.
Instead of beginning to chase boys, she’s chasing something else.
Something bigger. Something more important.
She’s chasing an Olympic dream. “I want to go to the Olympics with Team Canada one day,” said Neufeld via a phone interview on Friday. “That’s my goal and my dream.
“That’s what I want to do.”
So, at the age of 13, the talented synchronized swimmer from Yorkton left the comforts of home to pursue her dream, moving to Saskatoon in September of 2013 to compete with Team Saskatchewan on a National level, all the while leaving her supportive family behind in Yorkton.
And while moving away from home wasn’t easy for her, it has been rewarding. Recently Neufeld was named, along with just nine other swimmers, to the Saskatchewan team that will participate in the 2015 Canadian Winter Games in Prince George, BC, from February 13 to March 1, 2015. “It’s an honour to be named to this team,” mentioned Neufeld, who had to try out again for her spot on the Provincial team. “There are strong swimmers on the team so to be included feels good.”
However those strong swimmers, such as Neufeld’s swim partner Mackenzie Dahl, are all a few years older than her, yet are competing in the same age category, 16-18, as the young synchronized swimmer.
That in itself is what is impressive about Neufeld and where she is in her swimming career. At the age of 13 she is competing on a National level against swimmers three, four and sometimes five years older than her, something she is well aware of, but doesn’t consider to be of great importance. “I think there is one other person, a 14-year-old, that is swimming this age group while the rest are in that age group (16-18),” offered the synchronized swimming Wunderkind. “There aren’t many people who are doing that but as long as the team is strong, age doesn’t matter.
“In our group we don’t think of each other as superior because of our age or anything. We are all equal.”
And yet that’s another thing that separates Neufeld from others her age: Her maturity beyond her years. While many 13-year-olds would gloat about competing in a higher age category, Neufeld remains grounded. Instead of bragging, Neufeld says she is using the opportunity to learn from the more experienced swimmers in the hopes of bettering herself in the future.
And while she admits it’s quite an accomplishment for any athlete to compete at a higher age group, it’s nowhere near the most important thing on her mind right now.
The most important thing, right now, is helping her team achieve their own goal for the Winter Games. “We’re striving for at least fourth place, which will be an improvement from the last Canada Games Team Saskatchewan was in,” mentioned Neufeld, continuing, “So fourth place would be amazing but a medal is something that, with a lot of hard work, we could get because of how strong my teammates are.”
But if, for some reason, Neufeld and company fail to bring home a medal in 2015, there will be nothing to worry about.
Because for Neufeld, due to her commitment, work ethic and drive, the future could very well be golden.