THE IPC Swimming World Championships and Parapan Am trials have been the focus of my training since I found out when and where they were taking place.
March 20 to 22 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC) in Ontario was not just another opportunity to race against the highest ranked elite para athletes in the world. It was also a chance to make the next set of national teams coming up this summer’s IPC Swimming World Championships, happening in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 13-19, and the Parapan Am’s in Toronto from August 8 to 14.
I needed to put myself in that place where swimming comes first, and everything else comes second. Everything I did leading up to trials in March revolved around being at my best in order to swim well and make the teams.
Knowing that I pre-qualified for World Championships the summer before, at the Para Pan Pacific Championships, did not in any way take off the pressure to achieve my para swimming standard in Toronto. Nobody knows for sure who makes what team until it is officially announced after the meet is over. Anything can happen. As an athlete, I had to believe in myself and do all my preparations prior to coming to trials.
Preparations included a three-week training camp in Plantation, Florida. I took every one of my races by the horns with a positive mindset knowing that it was now or never.
I swam my four main events: 400 free, 100 fly, 50 free and 100 free. I made my standard on the last day of the meet by swimming 1:10.55 for 100 free. I found out I made both Para PANAM’s team of 40 swimmers and World Championships team of 25 swimmers on the Sunday night of the meet.
Monday and Tuesday of the next week consisted of meetings, photo shoots, and media opportunities. This summer is a particularly big deal for Canada, especially Para PANAMS, because they are being held on home soil. The crowds will be huge, the atmosphere will be insane, media coverage will increase, and for some, this will be their first time at an elite level competition in Canada.
Immediately after all of this was completed, we took an evening flight straight to Glasgow for the British Para International swim meet, held at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre, from March 26 to 29. We were challenged with some very fast swimming from our European competitors, and Team Canada was the loudest and proudest team in the stands. Despite the jet lag, we stood up and posted some great results.
After the swim meet, Team Canada had a chance to tour the town of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Castle, before traveling home.