Local long course swimmer Ben Winterborn has been selected for Swim Ontario’s Youth ID Program, which marks a huge step towards representing the province at the 2022 Canada Games.
The soon to be 15-year-old, who splits his time between Napanee and Kingston, earned the selection based on his performances in the 2019/20 seasons as a member of the Kingston Blue Marlins.
“They’re going to be holding virtual meets every month where we’ll get to learn nutrition and mental health,” Winterborn said on what the Youth ID Program will entail. “There’s two different stages. Stage one is meets with Swim Ontario officials and they’re going to be coaching us. After that they’re going to select a certain number of people based on times, there’s only 14 or 16 people that will be chosen to be on the Swim Ontario team to go to the Canada Games.”
Winterborn, who has been swimming competitively for six years, has been working towards competing at the national level. His specialties are the 200 m and 400 m freestyle.
The added training offered by some of the top trainers in the province will be a huge boost, even if he wasn’t aware of the program until last week.
“I didn’t even know they were a thing until about three days ago when I was picked and I learned what they were and I was over the moon,” Winterborn said of the Swim Ontario Youth Program. “The main goal before worrying about the Canada Games was to go to nationals and make the national qualification time.”
Like all athletes, the pandemic has offered a major hurdle over the last year. For swimmers in particular, access to an Olympic-sized swimming pool has been particularly difficult to obtain.
“It’s definitely been a big challenge,” said Winterborn. “I lacked a lot of motivation at the start but I’m super lucky to have two home gyms at my mom’s and my dad’s. I’m really lucky at my mom’s to have my step brother to push me.”
Now with monthly virtual training sessions and the extra vote of confidence from the selection to the youth program, Winterborn is a major step closer to realizing his goal.