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Thursday, June 20, 2024
Leigh sisters are NOTL’s star swimmers
For Peyton and Georgia Leigh, swimming is in the family. The two sisters have turned heads in the swimming world, setting quick times and putting in hours of hard work. DAVE VAN DE LAAR
Sixteen-year-old Peyton Leigh says she's happy with how the Summer Olympics trials went despite not qualifying — she came in third overall and second in the junior category for the 1,500-metre freestyle DAVE VAN DE LAAR
Thirteen-year-old Georgia Leigh qualified in April for the Ontario Youth-Junior Championship for the 400-metre freestyle, with a time of 4:59.53. DAVE VAN DE LAAR

Teenage sisters Peyton and Georgia Leigh are making a splash in the Canadian swimming world this year.

Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Peyton began her journey toward a lifelong swimming career at just four months old, with lessons under coach Margaret Park.

Last year, at the age of 15, she had a shot at representing Canada at the Summer Olympics in Paris, after making it to trials last March for the 200-metre butterfly and the 400-metre freestyle.

When she didn’t qualify for this year’s Olympics, she kept on swimming — and made other athletic achievements this spring.

After Olympic trials, Peyton swam at the Speedo Canadian Junior Championships and set new personal best swim times. 

She said that she and the Brock University swim team have been working to improve their swim times and strength, with more consistent and on-land training.

“You can definitely see the improvement in us all getting stronger,” the 16-year-old told The Lake Report.

Peyton also participated in the Canadian Open along with her team and placed second in the 1,500-metre freestyle and third in the 800-metre freestyle.

During this year’s Olympic trials in Toronto, she went in hoping to qualify for the Pan Pacific Canadian Junior Team.

She ended up qualifying for the World Junior Open Water Team.

But she and her coach decided it wasn’t the best idea “since I’ve never swam in open water before,” she said.

In the coming year, Peyton said she and her coach plan to try out open water swimming to potentially make it a goal for the future.

“My coach has been discussing potentially swimming open water in the summer just so I can see if I like it or not,” she said.

“Because sending me off to Italy and having me swim seven-and-a-half kilometres without knowing if I like it or not yet is intense.”

She added that overall she was happy with how trials went, coming in third overall and second in the junior category for the 1,500-metre freestyle and making a new best time in the 800-metre freestyle. 

But Peyton is not the only super swimmer in the family with 13-year-old Georgia getting her start at around eight years old and not stopping since. 

At five-foot-eight, Georgia is already taller than her five-foot-five sister and has similar aspirations. 

In April, Georgia qualified for the Ontario Youth-Junior Championship for the 400-metre freestyle, with a time of 4:59.53.

The girls’ success is due to a lot of hard work, dedication and the help of coaches Isaac Seabrook and Dave Ling. 

Like her sister, Georgia spends a lot of time in the water during the week. 

Peyton clocks in about 18 hours in the pool every week, along with three hours of weight training, she said.

Georgia said her schedule is “slightly different,” due to being younger, but she still spends three mornings and three nights in the pool along with weight training twice a week.

Peyton thanked Dr. Greg Gilby from Sports Chiropractic & Performance Centre who helped her along the way while dealing with minor injuries.

A little bit of genetics may come into play in the girls’ talents as well. 

“I was a swimming instructor for 15 years,” said their mom, Christi Leigh.

Swimming is a thing of the past for her, though, adding that she opts to “stay dry” nowadays. 

juliasacco@niagaranow.com

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