They’ve put in the hours, done their lengths, and earned their spots at the Canadian Nationals swim meet in Quebec City. Now Faith Knelson and Aileen Humphreys have to concentrate on staying calm, and not psyching themselves out.
Knelson will be competing in 10 events, and is hoping to capture medals in all of them; Humphreys in four, and hoping to win her place on the podium too.
But for these athletes it’s all about discipline and sticking to the plan. The podium is a long way off, and their focus leading up to the competition has to be on following a regimine layed out for them by Coach Dusan Toth-Szabo.
“Luckily we have a really experienced coach,” Knelson said. “He knows how to taper us well, we save ourselves up for a big meet.”
That means backing off on some of the hard training and ‘saving’ themselves for the upcoming meet. There’s only two meets each year where that stragegy is implemented: the Provincials and the Nationals.
“The most important thing is to stay calm,” Humphreys said.
Added Knelson, “You can’t really psyche yourself out even before you’ve started.” She focuses on doing the ‘little’ things that need to be done to ensure you arrive for the meet in peak condition. Diet, mental conditioning, every facet that can add to her edge going into the meet is attended to.
Both Humphreys and Knelson say that maintaining the discipline of a competitive swimmer influences other areas of their lives. “It’s one of those sports that’s really positive.” Knelson said. “I feel water is a healing thing.”
Both the swimmers are hoping for medals in the Nationals. “I’m pushing myself to make finals, and earn medals in all of my 10 events,” Kneslon said. She made finals in all her events last year and earned medals in eight of them, so feels she’s got a pretty good shot at a sweep in 2015.
“My whole, entire passion is swimming,” she said. “I love to race.”
Watching Canadian swimmers win medals on “home soil” at the Pan American Games is an inspiration, Knelson said.
For Humphreys the joy of swimming is a part of the equation. “I have to enjoy swimming,” she said, “that’s the most important thing for me.”
Coach Toth-Szabo said, “These two girls are on the top of their age group – in B.C. especially, but even above that.”
For a town the size of Ladysmith to be shooting for medals with two swimmers at the national level is a remarkable achievement, he said.
The Nationals start July 29 and go through to Aug. 2.