Ladysmith’s Faith Knelson has caught the attention of national and provincial swimming coaches.
The 13-year-old Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club member is on the radar of Swimming Canada and “on track.” Two weeks ago, Knelson had a visit from the Swim BC provincial coach Rocco Meiring, who will be supporting Knelson as she moves forward in competitive swimming.
Knelson piqued the interest of provincial and national coaches this spring when, as a 12-year-old, she was the youngest swimmer to qualify for Canadian Trials.
“She competed against the best swimmers, including Olympians, and held her own,” said Orcas coach Dusan Toth-Szabo.
Then, at the Canadian Age Group Nationals in Winnipeg, Knelson won eight medals and was selected to swim with Team West, as one of the top Canadian swimmers under the age of 14 for the western provinces. Knelson also broke three provincial records this past year for three different swim strokes — freestyle, butterfly and breaststroke.
“This shows she is well rounded and a very capable swimmer in three of the four stroke disciplines,” said Toth-Szabo.
Swimming Canada has identified Knelson as an “on track” swimmer and has co-ordinated a team of professionals to help manage Knelson and her swim path.
“They believe in my ability and want to help me attain my goal; that makes me really happy,” said Knelson.
Swimming Canada and Swim BC will cover the cost for a nutritionist, a sports psychologist and a physiologist to help guide Knelson.
“Our swim club does not have the budget to fund such services that support high-performance swimming,” said Toth-Szabo. “However, the good news is that Swim BC is committed to invest in Faith.”
Meiring recently visited Ladysmith to meet with Knelson and Toth-Szabo to discuss long-term development and to see the facility where Knelson swims every day. He was impressed with the facility but noted a few challenges at the pool that should be addressed, such as dive blocks, lane ropes and the water temperature.
“Swim clubs such as the Orcas are the backbone of Canadian swimming and nursery of our future stars,” Meiring said in an e-mail. “Faith Knelson is a very promising young swimmer and one of few across Canada that are part of Swimming Canada’s ‘on-track’ program. If she is to sustain her exceptional performances in the future, it will largely depend on the club’s ability to persuade the pool management to adjust the water temperature to a suitable level so that Faith and her teammates can sustain their ever increasing training loads.”
Meiring says he was “very impressed by the high standard of management of the facility but shocked to see that Faith and her teammates train in 29-degree Celsius water.”
“The norm for sustained swimming training is around 26 degrees, which puts Faith and her teammates of Orcas in danger of dehydration due to excessive fluid loss,” he said.
Meiring also noted that it is necessary for competitive swimmers to have dive blocks that are similar to those in competition.
The new swim season has just begun for the Orcas, and the team will participate in four inter-island meets over the two months.
“I am just excited to be back in the pool and training with my team and friends,” said Knelson. “One of the goals for this year is to improve my weakest stroke, which is backstroke. I plan to train and focus and I am excited that I have qualified for Canadian Trials in Toronto again this year.”
To learn more about the Orcas Swim Club, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.