She trains in the Pan Am pool with the Scarborough Swim Club, and has tickets to watch swimming with her family during the upcoming Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.
So you can imagine how thrilled Lily McDonald was to be chosen as one of the 3,000-plus torchbearers taking part in the 41-day Pan Am Games torch relay.
Lily’s mother, Denise, told her about the application to run with the torch after finding out about the open call through the swim club.
“She told me a few days later, then told me I was accepted,” said Lily. “I was so surprised, and excited at the same time.”
Lily will run her 200-metre section on the second-last day of the relay, carrying the 1.5 kg aluminum torch past Queen’s Park downtown. The relay will end day 40, Thursday, July 9, in a public celebration at Nathan Phillips Square.
Before Lily carries her torch – which her parents have chosen to buy as a memento of the relay – it will have been carried about 5,000km, flown more than 15,000km from its kickoff ceremony in Teotihuacan, Mexico in May, and travelled by more than 60 modes of transportation.
While that makes Lily a bit nervous, she’s looking forward to running her stretch with the support of many of her friends.
“They’re all really excited for me,” she said.
Lily’s connection to the games through her swim club makes the experience extra special for her. During the games she’ll get to see some of the fastest swimmers in the world racing in the same water she trains in.
“It’s so cool to think that we’re there in the same spot the athletes will be competing,” she said.
The 13 year-old swam on her school swim team at Glen Ames Senior Public School, and served on student council. She will be attending Malvern Collegiate Institute in the fall, and back in the pool six times a week as the Scarborough Swim Club picks up again after its summer break.
For now, though, Lily is looking forward to her moment in the spotlight on July 9. She believes it’s a rare chance to take part in something she’ll remember for the rest of her life.
“It’s once in a lifetime. I’ll look back on it and I think I’ll be really proud.”