It’s one stroke after another for 15-year-old Christina Lake resident James Dergousoff as he prepares for the swimming Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials in Montreal.
A part of Team BC and Team Canada, Dergousoff is currently in Fort Lauderdale, Florida training for 11 days before he flies to Montreal to swim against other competitors around Canada.
“I’m going to train and not have school on my mind before the Olympics trials,” stated Dergousoff. “I’m still too young to go to the Olympics this year but there’s another team that’s going to Arizona and (when the results are in next week) I’ll know if I made that team.”
Dergousoff is focused on the 200-metre breast stroke, 100-metre breast stroke, 400 IM (individual medley) and 200 IM, but he favours the 200-metre breast.
“My best time for short course breast stroke is 2:16 minutes and I want to do 2:16 minutes for long course,” he stated.
A short course is a 25-metre pool, where as a long course takes place in a 50-metre pool.
“It’s just a really nice learning experience and making new friends and seeing new people,” stated Dergousoff. “I always meet new and faster people and it’s always good to see what they do.”
Dergousoff currently holds three provincial records for males in the 13 to 14-year-old category, set last year when he was 14 years old: long course 400 IM, short course 400 IM and short course 200 IM.
He also holds over 80 club, meet and regional records in the Kootenay BC Summer Swim Association.
Theresa, his mother, pointed out that to even swim at the Olympic trials, every competitor first needs to meet the qualifying standards.
Dergousoff has qualified four times.
She recalled him insisting on joining the Piranhas Swim Club when he was five years old.
He would attend the 6:30 a.m. winter maintenance practices while still in kindergarten.
At seven, he would swim across Christina Lake with the Piranhas Swim Club.
“The kids love it,” she stated. “They go from the narrowest part of the lake, it’s about a mile, but you wouldn’t believe the kids that could do it. It was unreal.”
Parents would follow on their canoes and jet skis, watching as the children swam across the Lake.
When he was 11 years old, Dergousoff transitioned into the winter swim program, which offered the Olympic events, such as the IM and breast stroke.
He currently trains with the North Shore Chena Swim Team in North Vancouver.
Theresa will be cheering on her son with his grandma in Montreal.
“I think getting to the Olympic trials, because we go to swim meets all the time, the environment is going to be electric,” she pointed out. “The young athletes are going to be swimming their guts out for the first two spots.”
The first two spots will advance to the Olympics.
In the next five years, Dergousoff hopes to be studying in a university in the United States, where he can train.
“That would be the best outcome,” he said. “But I’d come back to Canada for training and to compete (for Canada).”
The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials take place from March 27 to April 1 in Montreal.