Golf was Nicolas-Guy Turbide’s ambition until he hit water

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 18, 2021

Turbide switched sport to become Canadian Para swimming star


An avid golfer in his youth, Nicolas-Guy Turbide was afraid of water. But luckily for Canada’s Paralympic team, he eventually gained confidence to become one of the country’s top Para swimmers – and a top medal contender for this summer’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

“I was afraid of water when I was young so activities at the pool, on lakes or at beaches did not interest me,” Turbide said. ‘’All I wanted to do was hit golf balls like my parents and be the best player possible.’’

In fact, his father Danny is a professional golfer on the Quebec circuit and won a seniors Quebec Skins tournament last summer. His mother is a pharmacist and that’s a profession Nicolas-Guy would like to pursue.

His parents came up with the clever idea to put their son in swimming, telling him that he needed to be involved in other sports in order to improve his technique and skills for his golf game. 

What swimming ultimately did was bring out his competitive nature.

‘’My desire to win and touch the wall before everyone else was stronger than my fear of water,’’ said Turbide, who was born with oculocutaneous albinism, a condition resulting in visual impairment and the absence of pigment in the skin. ‘’So slowly but surely that barrier disappeared and today I think that was the best decision I ever made.’’

Overcoming that fear was not easy.

‘’It took awhile,’’ the Quebec City resident admitted. ‘’I had to go through many steps. At first I had trouble leaving the side of the pool, then it was swimming in the deep end, to put my head in the water and to swim a complete length.”

But at some point, Turbide’s pride kicked in. There was no way he was wanted to feel embarrassed in a race.

‘’I felt I had no choice but to complete my length in races,’’ he said. ‘’I didn’t want to be that guy that stops midway and says ‘oh I’m too scared to continue’.”

Eventually he realized that he had the potential to go to the Paralympic Games.

‘’In 2012, I had the opportunity to have many of my teammates go to the London Games,’’ he said. ‘’I think that’s where my dream was born. I knew that if I could train hard that Rio or even Tokyo could be a possibility for me.’’

Turbide, now 24, made his Paralympic Games debut in 2016 and brought home a bronze medal in the S13 100m backstroke and broke two Canadian records. That 100m back performance improved to a silver medal at the 2019 world championships.

Now there’s really no turning back for Turbide in Tokyo.

For more stories about Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympians, visit

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