I spent last weekend at the Memorial Sports Centre assisting at a swim meet that attracted swimmers from Thunder Bay to Kenora, and north to Red Lake.
For many swimmers, it was their first experience in competition.
Six-year-olds amazed themselves, their parents, and their coaches with their raw developing talent. Older swimmers continued to improve.
Two of the swimmers who simply amazed me this past weekend were Keegan Little and Christopher Allan.
I can remember back when the two started swimming. Actually, they probably can remember me back then because I likely caused more distress to them.
Both were awkward and had poor co-ordination. And both often were disqualified as they struggled to become proficient swimmers.
Sometimes it was heart-wrenching to tell the youngsters, who had tried so hard, that they still hadn’t succeeded. I suspect it was just as hard on their parents, who wanted their boys to succeed only to see them fall short.
Over time, however, they both became co-ordinated and began to see successes. And this past weekend, the two young men proved to everyone watching that they have become good swimming athletes.
Swimmers seem to transform from being fish out of water to becoming graceful dolphins. Both young men have made that transition.
While Keegan and Christopher were swimming the best races of their lives here, Fort Frances Aquanaut Donovan Taylor travelled west to Saskatoon to compete in the Manitoba-Saskatchewan championships.
He’s currently the best up-and-coming male swimmer in the region. In fact, he is ranked nationally for his age in most of the events he swims.
Swimming has provided lots of opportunities for young people from our community and communities across the northwest. Many have gone on to compete very successfully at college and university.
Alex Parent, now a member of the McMaster swim team, has been invited to vie for a position on the Canadian swim team competing at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China later this year.
Ashley Dutton, who competes on the University of Lethbridge swim team, shortly will be competing at the university championships hoping to record times that will allow her to go to the Canadian nationals and Olympic trials.
Not all swimmers continue to compete. Many transform their enjoyment of the sport to become lifeguards and swimming instructors. Many go on to coach new swimmers.
It remains fun to watch young kids transform themselves to successful athletes—and then to transfer their enjoyment of swimming to the next generation.
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