Swimming down under for the first time

WolfPack coach and Kamloops swimmer head to Australian competition

WolfPack swim team head coach Brad Dalke and Kamloops Classic swimmer Colin Gilbert will see Australia for the first time when they head down to represent Canada at the 2015 Australian Age Group Championships.

Gilbert, 16, was selected for the competition, which runs from April 13 to 20, for consistently being one of Canada’s fastest swimmers in butterfly and freestyle distances in his age category.

Kamloops swimmer Colin Gilbert will represent Canada at an Australian competition. (Tayla Scott/ The Omega)

Kamloops swimmer Colin Gilbert will represent Canada at an Australian competition. (Tayla Scott/ The Omega)

“Canada is sending a junior team to race down there to get some experience in a country with a lot faster kids, because Australia is like a mecca for swimming,” Gilbert said.

Three other boys, six girls and two coaches were also chosen to make up Canada’s Junior Development National Team. One of the coaches, Dalke, was selected as a coach for his success training Kamloops swimmers.

“We’re a smaller club going head-to-head against all these larger teams. When we were at the Western Canadian Swimming Championships, we placed tenth overall. That’s out of a couple hundred swim clubs,” Dalke said.

Dalke has coached at the provincial level before, but it will be his first time coaching at a national level. It will also be both Dalke and Gilbert’s first trip to Australia.

“I guess it’s cliché, but it’s on the bucket list,” Dalke said.

“The biggest challenge will be the travel. When you travel, the rule of thumb is to give yourself a day for every hour of time change. Well obviously it’s 19 hours that we’re making a change so we only have 48 hours to get ourselves ready,” Dalke said.

When the competition ends, Dalke, Gilbert and the rest of Canada’s junior team will have a chance to coach and swim off of Australian beaches.

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Coach Brad Dalke is gearing up for the Australian Age Group Championships later this month. (Tayla Scott/The Omega)

“We’ll be training and doing some technique work and working with coaches down there, and those coaches, they’re legendary,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert is glad to have a friend from Kelowna, who was also chosen to compete on Canada’s junior team, accompanying him, along with his longtime coach Dalke.

“I’m not going to have to deal with a coach that I don’t know. With Brad, it’s like, this is what we do at home, and this is what we’re going to do when we’re halfway around the world. It’s great to have a coach that’s been with you every single day of your life,” Gilbert said.

There will be some familiar faces at the competition for Dalke as well, like his former coach and former roommate from the University of Calgary, both who live in Australia.

But there will be one more big competition to take on before Dalke and Gilbert go down under. On April 1, the pair head to the 2015 World Championships & Pan Am Games Trials in Toronto where Gilbert hopes to qualify for the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships which occur in Singapore in September.

“This summer is going to be really busy for me. I’ve got a lot of competitions but I’m looking to go and break some records. That’s one thing I haven’t done and that’s one thing that I’m looking forward to, and just enjoying wherever swimming takes me,” Gilbert said.

It’s too early for Gilbert to decide on what university he wants to attend, but TRU will doubtfully be in the running.

“The level I’m at I think I can get to a decent university with a decent team,” Gilbert said. “It’d be nice to be with a bunch of really quick men, like have a good men’s team and I don’t know if TRU necessarily has that. So I’d rather go to a place that has a really solid team with depth.”