School is out for the summer, but Cale Kooyman, 14, is keeping busy as he prepares for the 2014 Alberta Summer Games.
Kooyman swims with the Red Deer Marlins, and has qualified to compete alongside nearly 200 other swimmers ages 14 to 17.
“This will be my eighth year of swimming. I like the fitness level and meeting new people. It gives me something to do in the summer and keeps me active, instead of just sitting around,” said Kooyman.
“I’m mostly training in breaststroke, because that’s what I’m best at, so I’ll be doing a lot of that.”
The breaststroke requires endurance and strength to perfect. It is usually the slowest of swimming methods but is often considered one of the hardest strokes to compete with.
Kooyman said he also enjoys the individual medley portion of competitions, which includes butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and a freestyle stroke.
“We’ve only had one meet this year so I haven’t had the chance to do more. I’ve done a lot of competitions before, since I’ve been swimming for a long time. I liked the Lacombe meet because it’s always fun. Provincials are fun because there are so many people involved.”
Nervousness is not an issue for Kooyman, who has been swimming for most of his life. He has competed many times throughout his career, from local meets in Lacombe to big provincial meets.
“I’m excited. I’ve been preparing a lot for this and our coaches are really good,” he said.
At 14 years old, Kooyman is on the younger side of competitors.
He will be competing against swimmers up to age 17, some of who swim year-round, not just from May to August.
Kooyman swims twice a day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in July to prepare for the Games.
Along with his love of swimming, Kooyman also plays volleyball and basketball throughout the school year. He said that swimming alongside those two sports in the school year would just be too much, and he doesn’t want to give anything up.
“For me, swimming and volleyball are tied for my favourites. Winter-club swimming (October to July) is just too much with school and volleyball and basketball.”
Kooyman qualified for the Summer Games with a breaststroke, but now that he has been accepted, he can choose to compete in a number of events. The Games take place in Airdrie and are formatted as a three-day collection of youth sporting events.
All across Canada youths are training hard in their respective sports. The swimmers are organized in eight zones from across the province, and represent each zone as an Olympian would represent their country. The goal of many of these young athletes is to one day compete in the Canadian Summer Games, which brings them one step closer to the Olympics.
There are 18 events and two relays for the swimmers to choose from and Kooyman is looking forward to the competition.