She started triathlons as a youngster partly to make friends in her brand-new home country.
Nearly two decades later, Dominika Jamnicky, B.Sc. ’15, is training for the Americas triathlon championships in Uruguay this fall – with her eye on ultimately qualifying for the Paris Olympics in 2024 – while completing the home stretch of chiropractic studies in Toronto.
And in a kind of full circle, she’s now coaching young aspiring triathletes in Guelph’s Royal City Development Squad, founded five years ago with her fiancé, Kyle Boorsma, M.Sc. ’13.
“I decided I wanted to give back to the community and share my passion for triathlon,” said Jamnicky, who was 11 when her family came to Canada from Australia in 2004.
She spent her teens running, swimming and cycling in Port Hope, Ont., before arriving at U of G in 2010 to study biomedical science and to join the Gryphon team.
Today, some 20 area youngsters belong to the growing club, whose members train around town in their signature blue and gold. Recalling her youthful start with the sport, she says training and competing in triathlon gives kids “essential skills for sport and everyday life. The most rewarding part is to see their smiling faces and see them enjoying the sport.”
Ups and downs of a sport triad
Those are the kinds of benefits she says she’s gained – mixed in with the inevitable heartbreaks and low moments.
One highlight came in her first year with the U of G varsity team that won both women’s and men’s national cross-country titles. “That was the moment I knew that the University of Guelph was for me. The camaraderie and friendship among the athletes – I knew I was in the right place,” said Jamnicky.
Another high point was being selected to compete for Canada at the 2014 worlds. “Training with the cross-country and track and field teams and having the former national training centre at the University – that all led to being able to represent the country at the world championships in Chicago.”
After graduation in 2015, she trained full-time for four years and was selected for Canada’s team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, her birth country. Earlier this year, she made her second Commonwealth Games appearance in Birmingham, England.
Referring to the Australian Games, Jamnicky, 29, said, “That was special. On the sidelines, I had integral parts of my family cheering me on. It was nice to be able to compete there, but it was mostly like a family reunion.”
One low point came when she was still a student athlete in 2013.
In Europe that year, she broke her arm in a cycling accident. She wasn’t even competing at the time. “After a race, I went for a training ride,” she said. “I slipped over train tracks going downhill and got ejected from the bike.”
Back in Guelph, her rehab from that accident and other injuries pointed Jamnicky toward her current career aspirations.
Adversity breeds career prospects for grad
She says Marco Lozej, then a practitioner at U of G’s Health and Performance Centre, inspired her to pursue chiropractic studies after her biomedical science degree. That degree program is offered jointly by CBS and the Ontario Veterinary College’s Department of Biomedical Sciences.
Jamnicky is now completing her final year of study at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto.
“I think chiropractors have a lot of tools in their toolbox to help people with functional problems, especially injuries,” she said. “My goal is to help people the best I can.”
She aims to land clinical work in Guelph after graduation. For that, she’ll carry aspects of her university education as well, especially her studies of human anatomy and physiology.
“I found that the University of Guelph approach to human sciences was ahead of a lot of other schools I looked at, especially with the human anatomy program,” said Jamnicky.
Referring to the program run by the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences in the College of Biological Science, she said, “It’s one of the only programs in all of Canada that offers human dissection courses on cadavers. It made a difference in my understanding of the human body.”
Grad aims to qualify for 2024 Olympics
Now aiming to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games, she trains 15 to 20 hours a week. Her regimen includes regular workouts in the University pool and distance training with the varsity cross-country team.
Since the Commonwealth Games, she has competed in European races with what she describes as middling results. Next up in late October were the Americas championships in Uruguay, where she was aiming for a top-five finish.
“My recent European trip was not quite what I had prepared for, but that’s racing – there are ups and downs,” said Jamnicky, whose specialty in her sport triad is cycling.
She said she relies upon a strong support system, including Boorsma. A former decorated Gryphon runner, Boorsma completed graduate studies in nutrition, exercise and metabolism, and is now an assistant coach with the varsity track team.
“A good team makes a world of difference,” said Jamnicky. “No athlete’s trajectory is a smooth trajectory. It depends on how you’re able to work through the downs. Having a support system is huge, it helps you put things into perspective and work through challenges.”
In turn, that’s partly her goal for the kids training with her development squad – and for adult runners now training with Boorsma in a new offshoot of the club.
“With the national training centre shut down, we’re trying to fill that void and bring high-performance training in triathlon back to Guelph,” she said.