Local swimmer making a splash at university

She started out as a big fish in a small tank here in Fort Frances. Now, she’s a big fish in a big tank at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.
A first-year kinesiology student, 19-year-old Heather Dutton found it difficult to leave her home town and move to a big city.
“I had a hard time at first,” she admitted. “But it’s better now and I’ve made a lot of friends.”
Dutton’s father, John, remembers the few tears shed by his daughter during the adjustment period.
“We were a little worried at first about her going away to school,” he noted. “She’s really shy, but at the same time really personable. She had her moments but has made a lot of good friends now.”
Dutton probably couldn’t imagine being among the top 50 university swimmers in Canada back when she was in the “Goldfish” program run through the Fort Frances Aquanauts.
“It was one-on-one with the instructor,” she explained.
Which obviously aided in her clocking her first junior national time at the ripe age of eight.
Dutton attributed some of her success to Roman Ramirez, who coached her with the Aquanauts up until she left the province to go to school.
“He increased our metres and made us work out a lot harder,” she noted.
Today, Dutton has made the jump from spending only 10 hours in the pool when she lived in Fort Frances to 15, with dryland training on top of that.
“When she would go to competitions, she would be up against kids who were swimming 20 hours a week when we were only able to afford 10,” said her dad.
Another problem Dutton had was with her in-town competition when she was competing and practising here. A lot of the kids she was swimming with were younger and slower, which wasn’t enough competition to help push her times.
As such, Dutton was excited to get to a team with better swimmers. “Now I’m swimming with people my age, which ups the competition,” she remarked.
With eight swim practices and three dryland workouts a week, Dutton, like many other athletes trying to make it to the big time, doesn’t have much time for anything else other than school, sleeping, and swimming.
“It’s a different environment but I manage,” she said. “I keep good grades.”
Dutton also manages to keep good times.
“It was a big jump for her,” noted John Dutton. “Since her move, she has made so many personal best times.”
But these personal bests didn’t come from nowhere. “She’s always had good coaching fundamentals,” her dad said. “She was willing and Roman kept pushing, and because of that she improved.”
That constant improvement has motivated Dutton to set more future goals for herself.
“I don’t know about the Olympics,” she admitted. “Nationals are a better goal.”
However, a little modesty may have played a role in that remark because her dad has a different view.
“She wants to make Olympic trials,” he said. “I think she’ll have the times to make the trials, but to make the team and travel with a team is a different level and takes a great amount of confidence and ability.”
Well, if her teammates keep yelling things out like, “Slow down, you animal,” and giving her T-shirts that read “Animal,” gaining enough confidence to make the Olympic trials may not be too far-fetched.

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