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At just 14, Pacific Wave synchronized swimmer Kendall Stirrat is among 16 athletes from across the country invited to a national junior team training camp this month in Toronto. Photograph By Martin Gregus
Kendall Stirrat’s summer plans have taken a dynamic and exciting twist thanks to her prowess in the water.
The 14-year-old member of the Pacific Wave Synchronized Swim Club is in Toronto for nearly the entire month of July as one of 16 athletes from across the country identified for the 2017 Junior National Athlete Pool. She will be attending a choreography camp at the Pan Am Sports Centre led by national team head coach Manny Wu and assistant Nathalie Lagrange.
The athlete pool and camp is part of the development plan leading up to the 2018 FINA Junior World Championships in Perth, Australia.
Stirrat earned her spot at last month’s Canadian Open Championships where a week-long selection process included two figure competitions and a half-day of routine skill assessment
She was a good bet to be in Canadian colours but the thought was being named to the national 13-15-year-old team for the second straight year. Instead, she has been aged up and identified among the best 15-to-17-year-olds in the country.
“The goal was to get back on the 13-15 team again but compete in the junior category as one of the younger athletes,” said Pacific Wave head coach Kara Kalin. “It was really about just trying to have her best performance. She went in ranked 41st and ended up in the top 16. We left nationals thinking ‘ok, that was fantastic’ but still weren’t expecting this.
“There will be lots of specialists coming into the training camp. What a better way to spend your July than have the best of the best training you.”
Aging up to compete at older levels is nothing new to Stirrat.
She has been doing it since being identified as a candidate for Pacific Wave’s high performance program when she was 10.
“Ever since I started synchro, I was always at age groups older than me,” she smiled. “I think training with older people made me feel like I was one of them. I have never really felt my age. It has helped me a lot.”
Growing up, Stirrat enrolled in regular swimming lessons and even gave soccer a try.
It was attending a Try Synchro session at the Hillcrest Aquatic Centre in Vancouver when her life was about to change for good.
Her typical training schedule with Pacific Wave is 25 hours a week, including dryland training at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
“After that (Hillcrest session) I told my mom she had to get me into this. It was just super fun doing all the things you loved to do in the water.”
The long term plan is taking a run at being on the 2020 Olympic team. She is hoping to transfer to Magee Secondary as soon as her Grade 10 year to be part of the Vancouver school’s SPARTS program that provides a flexible schedule for high performance athletes.