Supporting Canadian Athletes

Rosanna Tomiuk

Rosanna Tomiuk turned puppy love into Olympic passion.

At ten years old, she joined a competitive swim team, and after three years, she tired of staring at the black lines on the bottom of the pool.

She considered taking up synchronized swimming, but because she had a crush on a boy on the water polo team, she followed his lead and joined the team herself. The rest is history in the making.

Tomiuk has been a driver on the Canadian water polo team since 2006. She has a silver medal from the 2007 Pan American Games and a silver medal from the 2009 World Aquatic Championships. Her team is currently training for the Pan American Games in October, and a victory there means a 2012 Olympic qualification.

“As I progressed in water polo when I was younger, we had a bit of a hard time,” said Tomiuk. “My mom was a single mom and water polo can be pretty expensive. Once I got carded and was receiving financial aid, things got easier. If it wasn’t for my mom working really hard to find money to pay for my water polo I wouldn’t have gotten this far.”

Tomiuk says her stepfather, a former water polo player and Olympic referee is her biggest fan and he goes to almost all of her games.

Her sport keeps her busy, but she makes time to spread water polo fever through her community. Tomiuk is the captain of the East Coast Sharks, a team in the Canadian Select league. She calls it a dream of what the sport will become in Canada: “It’s meaningful for me to help develop the 14-year old players on my team,” she said. “I have to be positive as a leader and it’s a big challenge to me to influence the younger players coming up.”

Tomiuk is up for the challenge, and to prove it, she’s become an athlete representative for AthletesCAN. She attended her first AthletesCAN Forum last year: “It’s just so cool to see how (athletes) can make a difference,” she said, noting that many sports and athletes are facing the same struggles: funding, and encouraging corporate Canada to invest in Canadian athletes.

Tomiuk is also participating in the Dale Carnegie course, an effective communications program offered through a partnership between AthletesCAN and Dale Carnegie Business Group. She said that she and her classmates are being taught to live meaningfully in the present rather than always looking toward the future.

Her whole team is also working on becoming more prominent in the community. Soon they will be attending a fundraiser for a community centre in Little Burgundy. The captain of the team, Krystina Alogbo, will be speaking at the event: “I think we can inspire the youth,” said Tomiuk. “I speak in elementary schools and high schools for Play to Win…and when the presentations are over, I feel like a million bucks. We don’t realize the influence we have, because we live a life we’re used to. But our community really looks up to us and values our hard work and they are excited to be part of our story if we let them into it.”

Tomiuk’s story goes beyond water polo. She attended University in California on a water polo scholarship and studied biology and music. She’s starting a career as a singer/songwriter and releases her first EP on February 5.

“I’m trying not to be afraid to embrace a weird sort of identity—being an athlete and a musician,” she said.

The 26-year-old has been recording music for seven years.

“As I excelled in sport, I didn’t know if I was allowed to excel in something else,” she said. “But I can be a pioneer in other areas too.”

Tomiuk has a personal website and blog at www.rosannatomiuk.com.

Incidentally, she did date the boy on the water polo team for two and a half years and they remain good friends.

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