Faith Knelson, centre, won gold at the Canadian Swimming Championships in Montreal earlier this month. The Saltair athlete is competing in the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Indianapolis Aug. 23-28. (Submitted Photo).

Swimmer Faith Knelson ‘pumped’ to race at FINA world junior champs

Faith Knelson is ranked top five in her events at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships.

Local swimmer Faith Knelson is a leader among the next generation of Canadian talent competing at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Indianapolis this week.

“My training has been really good these last couple months, I’m making all the bench marks I’ve wanted to achieve within sets which is giving me a lot of confidence heading into the championships,” said Knelson, prior to leaving the Island bound for a staging camp in Toronto.

The 16-year-old is a medal contender in all three breaststroke events at the six-day competition which gets underway Wednesday at the Indiana University Natatorium on Purdue University campus.

The former Ladysmith Chemainus Orcas athlete moved to Victoria last year to train alongside other high performance swimmers, including several Olympians, as part of Swimming Canada’s NextGen program.

Knelson heads into the world championships ranked 3rd in the 50 breaststroke, 4th in the 100 breaststroke and 5th in the 200 breaststroke.

Both the 50 and 100 breaststroke events follow a semi-final format with the top eight swimming for medals in each race on Thursday and Saturday night.

“The major keys that always help me in competition are being mindful of my surroundings, really being aware of where I am and taking in every detail,” Knelson said.

“Staying true to my race plans and all my training, staying focused and worrying about myself. A huge one is to make sure I’m always having a good time, the minute it stops being fun is the minute I won’t enjoy it anymore.”

This season has been nothing short of spectacular as she dropped big chunks of time and podiumed at the Canadian Swimming Trials in early April after overcoming a hip injury and mononucleosis in the winter.

At the world championships Knelson will also swim the second leg of the 4×100 medley relay which includes the likes of Rio Olympic medallists Taylor Ruck and Penny Oleksiak as well as Rebecca Smith.

The relay is the final event of the last night of racing next Monday and the crowds will no doubt be electric as the 2nd ranked Canadians look to beat the host USA team to the wall.

“I’m really looking forward to just being there and appreciating the fact I get to wear the maple leaf with pride,” said Knelson, adding that the relay is a “highlight for me…we have a great shot and grabbing the gold which will be so surreal.”

Knelson had a strong showing at the Canadian Swimming Championships in early August where wasn’t rested but still took gold in the 50 breaststroke, silver in the 100 breaststroke and bronze in the 200 breaststroke.

“Going two best times was super exciting for me,” she said.

The sixth annual FINA competition is attracting over 1,000 of the best girls aged 14-17 and boys age 15-17 from 100 different countries.

“In all honesty I’m just super pumped about the whole experience,” Knelson said. “Both my parents are coming down to watch me and I know I’ll have my country back home routing us all on too.”

To watch live streams of the competition or view the results visit www.swimming.ca or www.fina.org.

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