Canadians are absolutely buzzing about Penny Oleksiak, the 21-year-old Olympic swimmer from Toronto who is officially Team Canada’s most decorated athlete to ever compete in the summer games. Oleksiak won the sixth medal of her Olympics career on Wednesday, taking home bronze in the 200m womens’ freestyle race.
Her achievements have rocketed her into the spotlight, along with Team Canada’s other female medalists at the Tokyo 2020 games, including Margaret Mac Neil, who won gold in the 100m butterfly, and Maude Cherron, the gold medal winner of the women’s 64kg weightlifting competition.
Here are 6 interesting things you probably didn’t know about Penny Oleksiak.
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She’s friends with Bianca Andreescu
This friendship makes so much sense. Oleksiak and Andreescu go way back to 2019 when the tennis champion won the grand slam in the U.S. Open.
Oleksiak decided to shoot her shot and sent Andreescu a DM on Instagram, according to the Toronto Star. “I told her, ‘If you ever need someone to hang out with or if you ever want to call someone, here’s my phone number. Hit me up, whatever.’ She messaged me back and she was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to hang out so bad,” said Oleksiak. The pair even sat courtside together at a Raptors game.
She broke her first Olympics record at age 16
Oleksiak made a name for herself long before Tokyo 2020. She competed in the Rio Olympics in 2016, where she became the first Canadian athlete to win four medals at the summer games. She tied with Victor Davis for Team Canada’s most decorated swimmer ever, according to her Olympics bio. She was only 16 at the time, making her accomplishments all the more inspiring.
She collects quirky gifts for her parents while travelling
Oleksiak’s career has sent her all over the world and no matter where she goes, she always remembers to bring something home for her mom and dad. The swimmer collects Hawaiian shirts for her dad and Starbucks mugs for her mom, and she never travels without her good luck charm, a grey blankie, according to her bio.
Her older brother is an NHL player
She’s not the only elite athlete in her family! Oleksiak’s 28-year-old brother, Jamie Oleksiak, is a defenceman for the newly minted Seattle Kraken NHL team. Jamie is also a Raptors fan just like his sister. Oleksiak has an older sister too, who is a former NCAA rower.
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She has two cuddly little dogs
Oleksiak comes from a family of dog lovers, and she even has two pups of her own. In a Q&A video on her YouTube channel, the Olympian said that she has a French bulldog named Norman and a Boston terrier-French bulldog named Bean. In June, Oleksiak celebrated Bean’s first birthday and dressed him up in a party hat.
Her biggest fear is “open water”
Well, that was unexpected! Oleksiak revealed in her video that despite being a competitive swimmer, she’s terrified of open bodies of water. “Lakes, oceans, seas, rivers, anything that is not a pool, I am terrified of it,” she said. “And spiders, I hate spiders and sharks, because that’s why I’m scared of open water.”
You can catch Penny Oleksiak race tonight, July 29 at 9:59 PM EST in the 200m Womens’ Freestyle event, where she has a chance to become Canada’s most decorated Olympian of all time. Go Canada go!