Local swimmer Donovan Taylor collected a quartet of medals at the Ontario Summer Games in Sudbury last week, earning two silvers and a pair of bronze over the three days of competition.
The 16-year-old member of the Fort Frances Aquanauts grabbed silver in both the 400m I.M. (4:59.44) and 200m I.M. (2:19.76), meeting his own high expectations in those two events.
His third-place finishes came in a pair of freestyle events—the 200m (a personal best 2:03.05) and the 100m (56.75).
The latter came as a bit of a surprise to Taylor, particularly since freestyle is not his specialty but also because he had to make a comeback, as well.
“I’m not a big freestyler and right at the 75-metre mark, I was sitting back in about fifth,” he recalled.
“I just buried my head down the last little bit and just went for it, and I ended up coming out third.
“There were some really exciting races that weekend,” he enthused.
Taylor said he enjoys the chance to compete in the freestyle since he feels some weight is lifted off of his shoulders given the slightly lower expectations.
“The two [medals] I’m most proud of would be the 100m and 200m free, mainly because it was one of those ones where I didn’t really expect much out of it,” he explained.
“When I don’t expect much out of it, I try even harder,” he added.
“There’s that no-pressure zone in it, so you just go all out and don’t worry about what’s going to happen.”
Taylor also suffered some near-misses for more medals, finishing fourth in both the 100m fly (1:03.82) and 100m back (1:06.84) and fifth in the 50m free (26.70).
And he narrowly missed a team medal in the 400m medley relay (4:25.02) as Team Northwestern Ontario finished fourth.
The one that stings the most, though, was the 100m fly. Taylor was hoping to make a bit of noise in that race, but ended up being a little bit snakebitten in both the preliminary races and the final.
“We thought we could go in there and actually do some damage there, but it was just a bad swim period [in the preliminaries],” he remarked.
“Not much thought behind it, not much worry because it’s prelims.
“Then at night [for the final], I was ready for it,” he noted. “But off the blocks, I had slipped on the start and it ended up making me go deeper than I probably should have.
“When I came up to surface, I was behind by a good body length or so, and it was just that much harder to try to catch up to everybody else.”
Aquanaut teammate Levi Rittau also attended the Summer Games, setting personal bests in each of his events except for the 400m free.
The 13-year-old posted a ninth-place finish in the 50m free (29.19) and was 16th in the 200m I.M. (2:53.45) on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Rittau finished 12th in the 100m fly (1:21.22) and 17th in the 200m free (2:34.30).
Lastly, Rittau completed the 400m free in 5:26.03 for 16th place, the 100m back in 1:21.57 for 13th, and the 100m free in 1:04.72 on Friday.
He also swam with the sixth-place Northwestern Ontario 400m free relay team (4:11.24).
Rittau said he was encouraged by his results, explaining that he learned some tips to help improve his performance down the road.
“I was bettering my times and doing better on my strokes,” he noted, adding the freestyle and butterfly were improved, in particular.
“I would like to thank all the coaches for coaching me at the Ontario Summer Games. They’re all really good coaches and I liked them,” Rittau enthused, noting the coaches instructed him to quicken his kicks, which helped boost his times.
Rittau hopes to qualify for the next Ontario Summer Games, which are slated for Toronto in 2012.