Swimming Canada Olympic Trials: Faith Knelson is One Fast 14-year Old

Photo Courtesy: Scott Grant/Swimming Canada

by Rick Madge

14-year old Faith Knelson of Ladysmith, BC qualified for both the 100 and 200 Breaststroke as well as the 200 IM at these Trials. And while youngsters qualifying for big meets isn’t all that unusual, in her case Faith took it up a notch. Her Personal Best of 1:11.01 in the 100 Breast heats qualified her for the B final, making her the 12th fastest Canadian time in the heats. But only a 14-year old could consider that a disappointment. She’d wanted to make the A final, and so her PB wasn’t good enough.

Amazingly, this wasn’t her first B Final at a National Trials. Last year as a 13-year old she made the B Final in the 50 Breaststroke at the World / PanAm Trials in Toronto, finishing 17th with a 33.00.

This time around she said she wasn’t sure if she was going to be sick behind the blocks, but that certainly didn’t affect her swimming. Saying she wasn’t trying to accomplish anything in the final, Faith then blasted out an incredible 1:09.77, the 7th fastest 100 breaststroke in Canada this year. This time also beat a 29-year old Canadian Age Group record set by Allison Higson in 1986. It was one of the oldest records on the books.

Faith credits her coach, Dusan Toth-Szabo, with her success, but also says that a National Team Development Program called the 2015 Long Course ID Team has been helpful as well.

This program has to be one of Swimming Canada’s best kept secrets. It’s run by National Development Coach, Ken McKinnon. Ken describes the program as an identification and recognition program for the fastest swimmers in each Olympic event for 4 Junior age ranges.

When it started 6 years ago, members just received a t-shirt, cap and letter. But then Swimming Canada started to understand the true possibilities of this identification program, and it was extended to include invitations to training camps, touring teams, visitations with families to let them understand the elite swimming process, and even invitations to big international events. Ken says they also review swimmer situations to determine if the swimmer needs any additional resources in order to continue their trajectory towards the National Team.

So how has this program helped Faith?

She explained, “It’s been amazing for me. To be on the radar of national team coaches has definitely pushed me a lot in practices”. In addition, Faith will be going to a Junior National Development Team training camp in Bermuda in May. And Ken has helped Faith and her mother with a move about 90 km south to the High Performance Victoria program in September.

This little known program may be a key to Canada’s future swimming success.

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Author: Rick Madge

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