Bennett’s Mission For Paris 2024: To Win Another World Title

Nicholas Bennett, a Paralympic swimmer from Canada, is gearing up to make waves at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. Hailing from Parksville, BC, Nicholas is not just an athlete; he’s a testament to resilience, determination, and the unwavering support of family and friends. For Nicholas, family is everything.

“I don’t know if I’ll have just one biggest supporter, I have my entire family behind me,” he shares. With a close-knit bond, Nicholas and his family share a unique connection that fuels his journey towards success.

His journey in swimming began at the age of seven, a few years after being diagnosed with autism.

When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with my disability. My parents put me into a lot of therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy, they even tried water therapy and they thought water therapy was the best for me because I responded quite well to it. It just kind of kicked off from there really. I joined swimming when I was 7, so just about four years after I was diagnosed with Autism and then it just started kind of cascading from there, you know, I’m here”.

Swimming became more than a sport; it became a sanctuary, providing solace and comfort in the quiet depths of the water.

What I love the most about swimming is just being quiet underneath the water. It’s easy to clear the mind when you’re swimming. It’s the pressure of being underneath the water which I like of course, but also. I still use my blanket to cover my face while I sleep to replicate the feeling, I still do it. I find it quite comforting.”

With each stroke, Nicholas not only witnesses physical improvement but also experiences personal growth, recognizing the link between effort and progress in his training. This commitment exceeds the confines of the pool, influencing his perspective on life as a whole.

For many athletes with intellectual impairment or autism, finding coaches who truly understand their needs and training requirements can be a challenge. Nicholas is one of these athletes, but he is fortunate to have his sister filling both roles, as his sibling and coach.

Nicholas Bennet posing with his Gold medal from Manchester 2023 (L) and with his sister Haley (R). Photo Credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee

Nicholas’s only sibling, Haley was originally a synchronized swimmer (now called artistic swimming) then switched to swimming after entering a Swim-O-Thon. Nicholas was in water therapy at age three and entered a competitive program at seven.

We spend a lot of time together, so we don’t have to like the tip of sibling relationship. Like, we’ve never really fought a lot. I’ve been around her my entire life. Even when she went off to college, we were around each other. When I went off halfway across the country to Montreal, she came to help me settle in for the first couple of months as we’ve always just been,” Nicholas explains their unbreakable bond.

It’s a relationship built on trust. We treat each other more as coach-athletes at the pool, but at the forefront, always siblings first,” Nicholas added.

Nicholas’s journey hasn’t been without its challenges. “As any high-level athlete, it’s just how much effort we have to put in to see any improvement,” he reflects. Yet, it’s this relentless dedication that has propelled him to success.

Nicholas registered on Virtus eligibility in early 2019 which opened doors to the international para-swimming events. He has been at his top form in the past few years, swimming out with two world titles (200m freestyle and 200m Individual medley) from Manchester 2023 and silver in 100m Breaststroke, silver in both 200m freestyle, gold in 200m Freestyle at Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth games and 200m Individual medley from Madeira 2022.

Paris 2024 will be his second Paralympic Games and looking ahead, Nicholas remains focused on his goals.

My target for Paris is just to replicate last year’s World Championship. If we only get one medal, it’s still a success,” he declares.

Despite the competition, Nicholas remains undeterred, ready to face whatever challenges come his way.

As he prepares to make his mark in Paris 2024, Nicholas’s ultimate goal exceeds swimming.

“I want the world to be better for younger autistic people, Just keep with it. Reach out for help if you need it,” he shares a message to young athletes.

Nicholas Bennett’s journey is a testament to the power of perseverance, the importance of family, and the limitless potential of the human spirit. As he dives into the waters of Paris 2024, he carries with him the hopes and dreams of a generation, proving that with determination and support, anything is possible.

Join Virtus’ #MakingInvisibleVISIBLE campaign in making Nicholas’s journey Visible.


Intellectual impairment is an umbrella term to describe a vast and neuro-diverse group of people with varying types of cognitive impairments including intellectual disability, Down syndrome and autism. Having an intellectual impairment impacts how an athlete understands the rules of the sport, interacts with other players, and adjusts to different environments. They might find it difficult to manage reaction times, remember specific race or game strategies, retain focus for long period of time, or maintaining impulse control.