Swimmer is geared for racing

 Gisele Winton Sarvis

COLLINGWOOD – For Cole Mitchell, training in the pool and on land 10 times a week is worth it for one reason.

“I like to race,” said the 14-year-old Collingwood Clipper swimmer who just graduated from Admiral Collingwood Elementary School.

That’s a good thing because Mitchell just qualified for the July 26-31 Canadian Junior Nationals to be held at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

Making junior nationals at the provincials held over the Canada Day weekend was his goal.

Mitchell won the swim club’s first AA provincial medal by placing third in the 100-meter butterfly June 30 at the Ontario Summer Provincial Championships and Ontario AA meet in Scarborough.

He qualified through a time standard for the nationals in the 200 breaststroke, finished fifth in the event and improved his personal best time.

At the June 24 weekend festivals meet, he placed third in the 400-meter individual medley (IM).

Shortly thereafter, Mitchell qualified for the provincials through a time standard and came close to making the time standard for Canadian Juniors, said Clippers head coach Ryan Gurney.

Making junior nationals is “really tough,” said Gurney and it means Mitchell is in the top 16 swimmers in the country for his age group.

At his first provincial competition in March, Mitchell won the bronze medal in the 100-meter backstroke.

Gurney said Mitchell has the right combination of physical skill and mental flexibility to be a strong competitor.

“I’ve coached national gold medalists and Cole has some of the same attributes as those kids. He is very headstrong.

“I think swimming is a sport that is 90% mental, 10% physical. Everyone can do the same training but when it comes down to it’s how mentally strong are you to race? The mental game is huge,” he said.

Mitchell said he was nervous before a race when he first started competing six or seven years ago, but doesn’t get nervous anymore and loves competing.

“He goofs around and has fun, but when it’s getting close to race time, he is able to flick a switch and get focused. A lot of kids struggle with that,” said Gurney.

When Mitchell is training, he works very hard and is a joy to coach.

“As a 14-year-old he understands what’s going on with his training. He understands all aspects of the sport and he’s pretty confident.”

Sport is excellent for training mental toughness as well as physical strength.

“I relate a lot of things we do in the pool to life. It’s not just about swimming,” Gurney said.

Not surprisingly, Mitchell’s role model is Michael Phelps a retired American swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 28 medals over five Olympics.

“It always inspires me when I watch Michael Phelps swim. It makes me want to get back in the pool. I see what he does on his strokes and I want to add it to my strokes,” Mitchell said.

Competitive swimming is a family sport. Both his parents Jennifer and Wade are swimmers and his siblings Aidan and Piper are also Clippers competitors.

Mitchell has made a lot of friends through the sport of swimming. He met fellow Jack Czerny through swimming and now they are good friends. Czerny won a gold medal at the provincials in the 100-meter freestyle on July 1, the club’s second AA Provincial medal.

“We like to make little bets against each other about (swimming) times,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell enjoys several sports for fun. He competes in the annual Wasaga Beach Triathlon in the relay. He medaled two years ago on a team that included Czerny. He plans to compete again this year with two of his Clippers friends.

They just have to decide who gets to swim and who has to run and cycle. 

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