As the first woman on Canada’s national team for wheelchair rugby — also known as murderball — Paralympian Miranda Biletski never dwelled on the 2005 diving accident that left her quadriplegic. That doesn’t mean she accepts how it happened.
A three-week jury trial begins Monday for her lawsuit against the University of Regina, which she claims was negligent.
At 16, the promising competitive swimmer dove off of starting blocks into the university pool, struck her head on the pool bottom and fractured her spinal cord near the base of her neck.
‘I’ve had a pretty exceptional life thus far, and I know it … but it doesn’t change the fact that I wouldn’t wish my situation upon anyone.’
– Miranda Biletski, Paralympian
Among her allegations are that the university’s diving blocks were in an area that was too shallow, there wasn’t enough water in the pool, and that the university was prescribing to standards it should have known were unsafe.
In a statement of defence, the University of Regina denies any negligence.
Biletski took a hiatus from Canada’s rugby team to prepare for the trial.
“It’s something that’s kind of always been the elephant in the room or lurking in the background the last 12 years that I’ve been trying to move on with my life,” Biletski told CBC News.
She is seeking damages in the millions of dollars.
In its statement of defence and a third party claim, the university is blaming the accident on Biletski, her swim club — the Regina Piranhas Swim Club — and six coaches and representatives from the club.
When Biletski was just 15, her parents moved the family from their hometown of Assiniboia in southern Saskatchewan to Regina so that Biletski could access more elite coaching and facilities. She joined the Regina Piranhas Swim Club at the University of Regina.
In June 2005, Biletski, who was then 16, performed a shallow dive off a starting block at swimming practice. The pool area in question was marked 1.22 metres, according to Biletski’s lawyer, and a key point will be whether that was deep enough, taking into consideration the height of the diving blocks.
The International Swimming Federation, a world governing body for competitive swimming, requires a minimum depth of 1.35 metres below starting blocks, but Swim Canada only enforces that depth for…