CANMORE – Canmore’s Joanna Robertson’s Canadian Junior Championships (CJC) debut has the teen swimmer and her club excited for the future.
Training with the Bow Valley Riptides Swim Club, the 13-year-old made it to the finals in four of five U14 races at junior nationals, earning personal best times in each, while cracking the top 15 in the 50-metre freestyle (14th), and placing 15th in the 100-m and 400-m freestyles from July 24-19 in Calgary.
She finished 16th in the 200-m and 26th in the 1,500-m freestyles.Among Canada's elite young swimmers, Robertson said it was “super nerve wrecking” before jumping into the indoor pool, but she quickly overcame the jitters.
“My coach asked what music I listened to [before] and I couldn’t even answer that question,” said Robertson. “But after it was exactly the same as every other meet, just everyone is faster. After the first race, I calmed down and it was much different. It was an amazing experience.”
At the start of training camp, Riptides head coach Tom Shackel and the emerging swimmer mapped out the season’s goals, which had a trip to junior nationals at the very top of the list.
Shackel said it was a “big step up” and Robertson took it in stride. The coach praised his pupil's mindset and motivation at the meet.
“She always had the potential to go there and do that … any situation does require the application and it’s a big achievement to get the times at that level,” Shackel said. “We can produce these athletes in Canmore. The more we progress, the better we become.”
Now that the talented swimmer tasted the national stage for the first time, the coach-pupil duo see areas where seconds can be shaved off her best times for the next junior nationals and beyond.
“I think she’s started to see herself as a swimmer rather than just someone who was good at specific (swimming) events,” Shackel said. “She’s believing it more and more and putting her mind towards swimming.”
Currently, Robertson sits outside the top 10 for her age group in the country, but her times this season have shown promise with personal bests in 100-m, 200-m, 400-m and 1,500m, all being ahead of the 2019 CJC time standard, which helps identify up and comers.
Robertson’s results at CJC are the tip of the iceberg, as she aims towards national competitions and even international in the coming years.
"I’m really motivation to do well this year,” she said.