Swimmer gearing up for Canada Games

By the time you read this, Alex Parent already will have arrived in Toronto, where he will spend a couple of days practising with Team Ontario before the Canada Games get underway Saturday in Regina, Sask.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Parent, 16. “Pretty excited, but not really nervous, though.”
He shouldn’t be. After all, the teen is one of Canada’s premiere young SWAD (swimmers with disabilities) swimmers and national officials will have their stopwatches ready each time he gets up on the block.
But like Parent mentioned above, he isn’t nervous about such things. Rather, he looks forward to them.
And why not?
Parent has been through much more stressful times, like when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma—the same form of cancer that claimed Terry Fox’s life—at five years of age.
After a year of aggressive chemotherapy that saw his hair fall out, doctors feared the disease was spreading (osteogenic sarcoma is one of the most aggressive types of cancer) and saw no other way to save Parent’s life than to amputate his leg.
“I knew I was going to get it cut off. I didn’t know why, but it was pretty darn scary,” Parent had said a few months ago when recalling the life-altering decision.
But Parent is unique in that he has an ability to take a bad hand and still come out on top.
That’s evident with where he is today. And he will be looking to achieve personal bests in Regina to help Team Ontario to a team gold (every athlete’s performance goes towards the team standings) and provide another stepping stone to reach his goal of making the Olympics—perhaps as soon as Beijing in 2008.
“This is like taking one step closer to that,” said Parent, who will be entered in six events—most of those events are 50 or 100m races (his longest will be the 200m I.M.)—during the swimming portion of the Games, which runs from Aug. 8-12.
But there is one thing concerning Parent’s coach, Roman Ramirez, who also is the head coach of the Fort Frances Aquanauts.
Recent renovations to the swimming pool at the Memorial Sports Centre kept Parent from donning his swim trunks for 10 days, which might have a slight effect on his efforts to achieve personal bests in Regina, Ramirez said.
“I expect him to swim really well over there,” he remarked. “I think those two weeks off will affect him, but I just don’t know by how much. Two weeks out of the water is a lot of time.”
While the pool was drained to have a few tiles replaced and the lines repainted, Parent turned to dryland conditioning and says he “feels good.”
Ramirez thinks so, too.
“He’s in shape, [and] is really excited and motivated. His mind is at a good state and he’s ready,” said Ramirez, who has been coaching Parent from Monday-Friday voluntarily since his contract with the Aquanauts for the season expired a few months ago.
And that’s something Parent appreciates wholeheartedly.
“He’s just awesome because I definitely wouldn’t be training as hard as I am if it wasn’t for him,” said Parent, who practised Monday-Friday starting at 7 a.m.
But Ramirez said if Parent, or any other swimmer, is making sacrifices and compromises to reach achievements in the sport, then the coach should, too.
“He’s a swimmer of mine and I can’t leave him alone,” said Ramirez. “If that’s what I have to do for him to get better, then that’s what I will do.”