By Sarah Tone, Communications Coordinator

Eric Dupre’s bronze medal win in swimming’s 400m freestyle event made him the first male able-bodied swimmer to win a medal for Team Manitoba since 1997. He was shocked, to say the least. 

“That’s crazy to think about. I didn’t know that coming into the Games. That’s actually crazy.”

Eric’s been swimming competitively since he was about 13 years old. His parents asked him one day if he wanted to try swimming, and they specified he would be racing and not just completing swimming lessons, so he agreed to try it out. From the beginning, Eric’s talent has caught the attention of Swim Manitoba’s top coaches. 

“From day one, Eric has been so determined, focused at practices, and his commitment to the sport is unparalleled by others at his age,” says head coach Szilvie Carriere. 

Now 17, Eric is the team’s captain and his coach says he’s an influential leader – an opportunity and set of skills he credits to his own role model, his dad. 

“He’s doing a great job getting the kids up and cheering at the events, he’s a very good team leader outside of his individual performances.” 

Coach Szilvie was ecstatic to share the news with the team here in Niagara, and back at home. She says that at this stage of competition, it’s even more important to recognize a milestone such as this, especially when so few male athletes reach this point.

“At a Canada Games, when so many high-level athletes, or Olympians can say that this moment and experience is when they started to believe they could actually achieve bigger and much higher level accomplishments, it’s extremely important to highlight historic moments like this one.”

Cam MacDonald (Team Manitoba alum, 2005, 2009, 2013) is the last winner of a medal for Manitoba in the pool, he medalled in the para events in 2005. He’s been following the Herd on social media and cheering them on from home while they’re in Niagara. 

“I wanted to send my congratulations to Eric and to the whole team. I told them I was the last gold medal winner and then I challenged all the boys to take that burden away from me,” Cam said jokingly.

“I am very proud of how we’re doing, seeing all these medals being won by Team Manitoba swimmers. This is once in a lifetime and they’re living the dream.”

Eric captured another bronze medal in the 1500 freestyle event Thursday evening, and is on to race in the open water events tomorrow, at Welland International Flatwater Centre.