Manitoba swimmer Oksana Chaput trains at the University of Manitoba for the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg on Sunday, Aug 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Following the path set by Oleksiak, Chaput leads next wave of Canadian swimmers

WINNIPEG — If Oksana Chaput is exhausted after yet another gruelling swimming practice, she only has to go into her basement for a pick-me-up.

On the wall of her Winnipeg home hangs a photo of herself with Olympic swimming sensation Penny Oleksiak, whom Chaput met in April at the Canadian swimming trials in Victoria.

“When I walk past it, I always look at it,” Chaput said of the photo in a phone interview before her competition this week at the Canada Games.

“I always just remember meeting her and how inspired I am by her.”

The success of Oleksiak, fellow Olympian Chantal Van Landeghem — who used to swim with Chaput’s Manta Swim Club — and last month’s world-record setter Kylie Masse has rippled across the country to young, female swimmers.

“I always watch their meets because I’m always inspired by them,” Chaput, 13, said. “It makes me feel like I can do anything while I’m watching them.”

The Canada Games is showcasing a number of young swimmers who could be the next wave of female stars. The swimming competition is for girls up to age 15 and boys up to 16.

Chaput has already been turning some heads this year.

She’s achieved six Swimming Canada on-track times for 13-year-old girls in the 50-metre freestyle, 100 free, 200 free, 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley and 400 IM. On-track times are marks previously accomplished at particular ages by swimmers who’ve made world or Olympic teams.

Chaput’s Manta coach, Szilvie Carriere, said she can’t think of any other 13-year-old girls in Canada who are on track in six events.

“I would say she would be the only one,” said Carriere, who’s also a Team Manitoba coach at the Canada Games and used to coach Van Landeghem.

Reaching those times has put Chaput on Swimming Canada’s identification team, which could propel her into international competitions.

Right now, though, she’s finding out if her preparation for the Games pays off. She’s competing in a full slate of seven individual races and five relays, including the six events she has on-track times for.

Carriere predicted the five-foot-six Chaput could medal in three freestyle races, the 50, 100 and 200. She’s ranked No. 1 in the country in her age group for the 50.

Tuesday night, Chaput ticked one of those medals off the list by winning gold in the 100 free in a time of 57.47. Ontario’s Hanna Henderson, 15, picked up the silver, while Brooklyn Elizabeth Douthwright of New Brunswick and B.C.’s Jessica Luo tied for third.

Henderson, a 5-11 competitor from Mississauga, also won silver in the 200 butterfly. Lora Willar, 14, of Pointe Claire, Que., claimed the gold and Quebec teammate Jeanne Dahmen finished third.

Douthwright, 14, came to the Games with a notable achievement. When she was 12, she became the youngest person to swim the 14-kilometre Northumberland Strait from N.B. to Prince Edward Island.

One of the competitors Chaput’s keeping an eye on is Edmonton’s Emma O’Croinin.

“She’s one of my biggest rivals because she’s really fast,” Chaput said.

The 14-year-old O’Croinin also got her Games off to podium appearances, claiming gold Monday in the 1,500 free and a silver in Tuesday’s 400 medley.

Notes: Van Landeghem, who won a bronze medal with Oleksiak in the 4×100 mixed freestyle relay at last month’s world championships, is at the Games. The master’s student in clinical psychology at the University of Manitoba has joined the team of clinical psychologists offering services to the athletes.

Just Posted

Bower Place gets okay to redevelop

Red Deer municipal planning commission approves plans

Concerns raised about ice-cream-eating bear at drive-thru in Innisfail

Concerns are being raised about a video of a Kodiak bear from… Continue reading

Red Deer to see rodeo at its best

Canadian Finals Rodeo puts on quite a show say regular attendees

Red Deer police recover stolen Second World War German army passport, trying to find owner

A rare, Second World War era German passport was recovered by police… Continue reading

City Hall briefly evacuated

Carbon monoxide false alarm behind evacuation

WATCH: Marijuana in the Workplace information luncheon held in Red Deer

Central Alberta businesses need to prepare for the legalization of marijuana. That… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month