The success continues for Ladysmith swimmer Faith Knelson.
The 12-year-old, who trains at Frank Jameson Community Centre under the stewardship of coach Dusan Toth-Szabo as a member of the Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club, recently returned from the Western Canadian Championships with more new records and personal best times.
At the championships, held Feb. 13 to 16 at the Canada Games Pool in New Westminster, Knelson broke the provincial record for her age in the 100m breaststroke and 50m fly, as well as the national record in the 50m breaststroke.
“The category was 15 and under, so she was swimming against girls one, two and three years older than her. In the entire meet, there were only four 12-year-olds,” said Toth-Szabo. “On the first day, she got into the final with the fifth-best time and she ended up finishing second and only got beaten by eight one hundredths of a second by a 15-year-old girl.
“In the 50m breaststroke, she went into the final first, taking one and a half seconds off her personal best. Unfortunately, even though she got even better in the final, she ended up fifth but it was very tight. Maybe the start or a turn wasn’t as good. First was only 17 hundredths of a second faster than her. In the 200m individual medley, she didn’t make the final but took 2.56 seconds off her best time. And in the 50m free, she made the B final [for swimmers who finish ninth to 16th], qualifying in 16th position and she ended up winning that final.”
Knelson’s provincial record-breaking times were 1:11.70 in the 100m breaststroke and 27.09 seconds in the 50m free.
Her national record in the 50m breaststroke was a time of 33.07 seconds.
“No one has ever swam faster than that in Canada in the 50-metre breaststroke [at the age of 12] and those records have been around since like 1996,” said Toth-Szabo.
A humble Knelson is proud of her most recent achievements.
“I push myself very hard because I like adrenaline and I have high expectations,” she said.
“It’s a pretty outstanding time [in the 50m breaststroke] my coach would say, but I would like to do better.”
The swimming star doesn’t see age as a barrier when challenging older, taller, more experienced swimmers in competition.
“If you have height advantage and you swim better, you’re a better swimmer overall. But if you have speed on them, you can still be faster. Michael Phelps is almost a head taller than Ryan Lochte.
“To have that experience swimming against all the those amazing 15-year-olds was pretty awesome. I was the second youngest athlete in the competition. I was proud to be supporting my little town of Ladysmith at the westerns,” she said.
Elsewhere on the same weekend, Chantal Greenhalgh and Aileen Humphreys also from the Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club, competed at the CRKW Eliminator Invitational at Strathcona Gardens in Campbell River.
“Chantal qualified for the AA championships and Aileen qualified for the AAA championships B.C. provincials so she’s getting pretty close to age group national standard,” said Toth-Szabo.