U of R MVP swimmer reflects on her time in Montreal
University of Regina standout swimmer Jessica Winter took a visit to the 2012 Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials last march; it was a goal of hers for a long time.
Winter has been honing her swimming skills since the fourth grade, and it has shown early in her career with the U of R Cougars swimming team. After only two seasons with the Cougars, Winter has already picked up two team MVP awards, and last March was the only member of the university squad to qualify for the Olympic trials in Montreal.
“It is something I have had my eye on since the last Olympic trials.” She said. “I didn’t qualify for the Beijing trials, but I remember my friends going and thinking ‘I defiantly have to make it next time around.’ So it was nice to finally attain that goal and attend the meet.”
Before swimmers can qualify for the Olympic trials, Swimming Canada creates a standardized time that swimmers must beat in order to qualify for the trials. If you don’t make the time, you don’t go.
While competing at nationals a year earlier, Winter cleared the time by a fraction of a hair, literally.
“I went under the time by half a second,” She laughed. “And It was in an 800 metre race, which takes about nine minutes.”
Regardless, It was a relieving moment for Winter, who then did not have to worry about attempting to qualify again later in the year.
She may have only made it under the qualifying time by half a second, but that is all she needed to get the invite, and the opportunity to have one of the most memorable moments of her young sporting career.
"Just to be there and see some of the things that I saw, and to be a part of it, was amazing. My focus going into the meet was to just use as much of that energy as possible to have some fun doing what I love to do.” – Jessica Winter
The big stage of an Olympic trial would be enough to turn the stomach of even the most seasoned veteran. However, Winter said that she felt more excitement than anything else.
"Like I said, I qualified by half a second,” she noted. “So I wasn’t really a contender for Team Canada, and that took a lot of the pressure off. I wasn’t quite at the level of the top competition yet.
“But just to be there and see some of the things that I saw, and to be a part of it, was amazing. My focus going into the meet was to just use as much of that energy as possible to have some fun doing what I love to do.”
While taking the whole experience in, Winter viewed her visit to the Olympic trials as an opportunity to witness some of the best swimmers in the world compete at one of the most important meets of their lives. For her, it was a learning experience, and something that she can look back on for inspiration while her own career moves forward.
Although the young swimmer did admit that her visit to Montreal was one of the most memorable experiences of her entire life, she said that the making the Olympics in the future isn’t really on her mind. She prefers to take her career, and her life, one step at a time.
“Right now I’m focusing on school and swimming,” she said. “It is a balance of both. Making a run at the Olympic team is a big commitment. I think that right now, for myself, I’m just taking it one step at a time. Maybe we will look at next year, and winning some divisional titles or medaling at some other competitions.
“Making the Olympics is a four year process, so we will see where it goes.”