Isaac Bahler got into swimming with the Sylvan Lake Nauticals Club, but decided to switch to the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club and he couldn’t be happier.
Not that he didn’t have success with the Nauticals, twice competing in the Alberta Summer Games, but felt he had reached his peak in development and wanted to move to the bigger club.
“I felt I was as high I could go in Sylvan Lake and wasn’t getting anywhere so I switched to the Catalinas,” explained the 14-year-old, who also moved to Lindsay Thurber High School where he’s taking French Immersion in Grade 9.
“I prefer swimming with a bigger group more my speed and where I can push myself even more. The coaching also helps and I’ve seen a major improvement in all my events since I’ve switched. My technique and speed are significantly better.”
The Catalina Club has an excellent reputation and has produced a number of world class athletes such as national team member Rebecca Smith.
“They have a very good record when it comes to producing good swimmers,” he said. “Also I had a friend who is a bit older and she switched as well and said she wishes she would have done it a bit earlier so I figured why not now.”
He’s experienced good results having qualified for the Western Championships (in April) and the Western Canadian Summer Games.
“That helps in your development,” said the six-foot, 180-pound Bahler. “It’s one thing to hear about results it’s another thing to see them.”
Isaac’s top events are the butterfly and backstroke.
“I’m strongest in short to mid range butterfly and backstroke and distance freestyle.”
Isaac enjoys training in more than one stroke.
“It’s enjoyable to switch my training to different events and different strokes. You’re not just doing the same thing all the time.”
But most of his success has come in the butterfly.
“It’s a power stroke and a lot of people find it challenging, but I like it as I have to push myself to have success. I just can’t just get by.”
Isaac qualified for the Western Canada Championship in the 100-metre butterfly as well as two relays.
“I was sick with pneumonia at the (provincial) Championships so I only qualified for those events,” he explained. “I did have a significantly better time at the Westerns, but it was only two weeks after the Championships and I still wasn’t feeling 100 per cent.”
So far Isaac has been selected to compete in the 100 and 200m butterfly at the Western Summer Games.
“They’ve picked me for those two so far. I could swim in others it depends on my results up to the Games (Aug. 6-13).”
Bahler short-term goal is to “swim more events, perform better at the Westerns and qualify for the Nationals”.
His long-term goal is to receive a university scholarship.
“Some have a goal to compete in the Olympics and what not, but for me, right now, I just want to compete for a university and go from there.”
Bahler is also a member of the Alberta Sports Development Centre – Central.
“It’s certainly a benefit,” he said. “I could use the gym, although I have dryland training with the club and swim a significant amount so I don’t take advantage of that. But they put on several seminars and have guest speakers which I make use of and they’re beneficial.”
Isaac also talks with sports psychologist Doug Swanson.
“He definitely helps in the mental preparation, which is a significant part of competing in individual sports.”
Bahler looks back at his career, so far, and indicated he’s proud of his success at the provincial level and at the Alberta Summer Games.
“The Alberta Games were rewarding when you have success against people your own age,” he said. “As well I get a real rush when our relay teams have success. When you place well the whole team succeeds.”
Outside of swimming Isaac enjoys reading and writing. He has received the Martin Godfrey writing award and a County of Red Deer writing award recipient.
“I placed second in the junior division for the County as we wrote on the Future of Agriculture,” he explained. “I’ve won other writing awards in the past, writing short stories.
“It’s something I like to do as reading is a passion of mine.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and Alberta Sports Hall of Fame member who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org