National Paralympic swim team member Jonathan Dieleman started his journey in the Bulkley Valley Pool and so far it has taken him to international finals and medals. He is currently ranked third in the world in the 50 meter breaststroke.

Top swimmers home for the holidays

Paralympian and university star swimmers back and practising in the Smithers pool.

The Bulkley Valley Pool and Recreation Centre may not be the largest, most modern aquatic facility in the province but that does not matter. It somehow continues to produce top quality swimmers who go on to become excellent lifeguards and instructors.

And competitive swimmers.

Right now it’s home for the holidays for three of the area’s top swimmers.

Jonathan Dieleman started off as a rodeo enthusiast and then turned to swimming as a sport after a broken back left him in a wheelchair. He is currently at his highest ranking internationally with a third place in his top event, the 50-metre breaststroke.

While he generally trains with Richmond Rapids coach Rob Pettifer, he likes to spend time at his farm in Quick and while there continues to train at local facilities.

“I’ve got some pretty big goals. I’d like to be on the podium at the next Olympics,” he said.

He is joined by university twins Tanner and Bailey Espersen who have progressed to be among the top swimmers at their schools.

Tanner, who transferred to the University of South Dakota from his original school in Tennessee, said that his new coach has him racing the backstroke and medley swims and was looking forward to the conference championships coming up in the new year.

His transfer was necessitated by the original school’s dropping of his academic course of study. When this occurs, the athlete may transfer to another school which offers that study and can maintain any scholarship funding.

Bailey is currently ranked sixth in the 200-metre breaststroke. He has also qualified for Canadian University nationals in the 50 and 100-metre breaststroke races and is approaching school records in each breaststroke event. He feels that a spot on the podium will be a tough shot but that it is in the realm of possibility. He is also looking at the FISU (International University Sports Federation) games team as a longer term goal.

Both university swimmers will head out for school break training camps after Christmas.

sport@interior-news.com

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