In April, members for the GO Kingfish swim club, including some swimmers from Orléans, traveled to Montréal, QC for the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic trials.
"The opportunity to learn more about this, and for our two young swimmers to experience this event by attending live was something we, as parents, did not want to pass on," said Kevin Jones, parent.
Assembling all the best swimmers from across Canada, who qualified for nationals, by winning or placing in events at the Montreal competition, meant swimmers had the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics. Winning or placing first or second was not the only criteria, meeting or beating the minimum Olympic Qualifying Time was also be required. In non-Olympic years, this same swim meet would be the top and final event of a swimmer’s season.
Held in the historic place where the 1976 Olympic swimming events were held, the incredibly large swimming venue was filled with swim teams and families from all parts of Canada. The finals on the last two evenings of the meet were televised nationally during primetime hours on Sportsnet.
GO Kingfish's own swimmers, were among Canada’s best, earning spots in the Olympic trials. For the 2012 Olympic year, 10 GO Kingfish swimmers participated – a considerable improvement from 2008, where the team only sent one swimmer, who happened to be a coach at the time. Emily Anzai, Taylor Moore and Kylie Weber were among the participants.
Adam Best swam and qualified for the A finals in the 200 back (finishing eighth overall), as well as Eli Wall and Connor Michie, who swam in the same heat for the 200 breaststroke. Wall qualified for a second swim and finished 15th overall.
Paralympic swimmers provide valuable lesson
Throughout the preliminaries and also the finals, young swimmers got to see not only Canada’s top able bodied swimmers but also the best disabled athletes, since their heats were integrated directly in the main events of the finals.
Holding the events this way highlighted Swim Canada’s progressive work on promoting the sport of swimming for all, including paralympic hopefuls. Benoît Huot, Summer Mortimer and Valérie Grand-Maison won their events, crushing previous records in the process.
GO’s own swimmer, Megan Michie, earned a second swim in the 100 backstroke, placing 14th overall in the finals.
"It was an excellent opportunity for many to learn more about swimming for disabled athletes, and the different categories of competition based on disability classifications," commented Jones.
Young Kingfish swimmers now have their sights set on Canada's National Swim Team and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games.
With files from Kevin Jones, GO Kingfish