Being a self-motivated young athlete can
be a huge bonus for long-term development and few appear as focused
as Valley East Waves swimmer Justin Leclair. The Grade 7 student at
Ecole Catholique St. Therese has clearly made a splash on the
provincial scene since first starting with the local club six years
From a modest start which saw the Hanmer
youngster struggle to complete 15 laps in five minutes as an
introduction to competitive training, Leclair has progressed to now
having his sights set on a trip to Nationals.
“It took me a little while to get used
to doing really fast training” said Leclair, who noted that the
benefit hit him suddenly, “almost like a big “ding” in the head”, he
laughs. After a short stint with the pre-competitive Junior Waves
program, Leclair made the move to a more challenging level at age
seven with a definite comfort for increased competitiveness.
“I remember being at provincials a few
years back and finally beating swimmers that I knew were really
fast” explained Leclair. Although the current emphasis in swimmer
development calls for progression in all four strokes, Leclair
admits that his favourite event is definitely the 200m freestyle.
“I’m a sprinter…I like sprinting in
major events” noted Leclair, who is currently just four seconds away
from hitting the qualifying standard for short-course nationals in
the 200m freestyle discipline. “I’m getting better at the butterfly
– I can do all four strokes and my backstroke gives me a chance to
catch up in some races.” Leclair captured first place in the 100m
individual medley at provincials in 2005.
With aspirations of some day making it
to the Olympic Trials, the talented 12 year-old is very much at ease
in the water, perhaps even moreso than outside the water at times.
“Sometimes I get nervous before a race. But when you get in the
water, then it’s gone and I can just swim.”