There’s no up-hill end to swimming pool, but for newly minted Junior National athlete Faith Knelson the laps to success just got a lot steeper, and she’s as ready as she can be for the new level of competition.
Making the National Team “was definitely a turning point in my swimming career,” she said recently, back at her home pool in Ladysmith, where she’s worked with Orcas Swim Club Coach Dusan Toth-Szabo for six years, after a trip to Bermuda with the Junior National squad.
“It definitely all comes down to mindset,” she said of prepping for meets at the elite Junior level. “There’s three major things: who wants it more, nutrition and who’s working harder, basically.”
‘Natural talent’ might keep you ahead of the pack until your 11 or 12 years old,” Knelson added. But when you get to the Junior National level, you have to add discipline and unflagging determination to the mix.
“There’s some girl across the country or across the world who’s working hard,” she said. “And if I’m not working hard, she’s going to be better than me. So that’s what’s really pushing me.”
It’s all ‘in the noggin’ she said. And the positive thinking that gets you first to the touch pad at the winning end of the pool starts the moment you wake up.
“It’s a whole mindset,” she explained. “I find that if I wake up with a positive attitude, I’m going to have a positive attitude at school, I’m going to have a positive mindset to eat something healthy at lunch, I’m going to have positive motivation going into practice, and I’m going to have a positive mindset coming out of practice, knowing I worked hard.”
Focus is another attribute Knelson knows she needs. “Everything revolves around school and swimming for me now, and I’m more than happy to work my life around that.”
Knelson is thinking ahead to the Junior Pan Pacific championships this summer, where she’s hoping for a best time and to make a final round at the games. A podium showing would be a ‘long shot.’ “I’m competing against some of the best teenage and young swimmers in the world,” Knelson said.
Her best shot at making the finals would be in the hundred metre breast stroke.
Knelson said nobody’s pushing her harder than she’s pushing herself. “My coach is obviously there to help me work hard, and definitely pushes me,” she said. “But nobody’s pushing me beyond the point that I want. I’m pushing myself so I can be a better swimmer.”
Knelson will be moving to Victoria to train next year, which will mean switching from Toth-Szabo, who has got her to where she is. That transition comes with mixed feelings. “My relationship to my coach is as good as it gets,” Knelson said. “He’s like family to me.
“He’s got me this far, and I wouldn’t be the person or the swimmer I am without my coach,” she said.