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Brendan Fitzpatrick is a two-time former Canadian national record holder and a French national record holder Image Credit: Supplied

Brendan Fitzpatrick’s string of honours for his skills in the pool are truly impressive. A two-time former Canadian national record holder, a French national record holder, a member of the French and Canadian junior national teams, a four-time bronze medallist at the European Youth Olympic Festival, among others, he was also named Rising Sophomore at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

An aspiring pilot, Brendan believes hard work and perseverance are the keys to realise one’s dreams.

Excerpts from an interview with the star swimmer:

When did you develop a passion for swimming?

Despite starting swimming at the age of 3 and competing at the age of 9, I guess I developed a passion for the sport only at age 12. That was when I qualified for my first major swim meet– the Canadian Provincial Championships.

Who influenced you to choose swimming?

I credit my parents for this. They enrolled me for lessons from the time I turned 3. In fact, they tell me that they used to encourage me to swim in the pool at our house when I was only 18 months old. A family friend suggested I get into competitive swimming after watching me at a school swim gala when I was 9 years old. That was how I got into this sport.

What are some important life lessons you learnt while practicing the sport?

Patience and perseverance. Like any sport, improvements in performance come very gradually and as a result of weeks and months of constant work. In a sport like swimming, time is crucial; even a minor difference of say a micro-second could mean missing a top position. It is important to understand that the training process is long and arduous. Trusting that and reminding yourself of your goals is crucial for you to taste success.

How many hours do you spend in the pool? How do you relax?

On most days, I wake up at 5am, have my breakfast, and dive into the pool by 5:30am. When I finish practice at 7am I have just enough time to have a bagel on my walk to class. My second practice is from 5pm until 7. I then head home, cook some dinner and study or do my homework. I hit the bed around 10:30pm. In the little free time I have, I like to relax by listening to music, playing games on my computer or watching Netflix.

How do you manage to juggle practice with academics?

Initially, I really struggled balancing my academic and athletic life, but I found that using every spare minute to get my homework done would make my life significantly easier. For instance, instead of scrolling through Instagram while waiting for the bus or while having my lunch, I look through my homework assignments or do some of the worksheets I am assigned.

3 pieces of advice your mentors gave you about the sport and succeeding?

1. Be grateful, nothing is a given in life. You have to work hard to achieve what you want, and must continue to strive for greatness in every aspect to be the best versions of yourself.

2.  Your team matters. Although swimming is a super individual sport (aside from the relays), my attitude at practice and during competitions has a huge impact on all my teammates and even my competitors. Positivity is infectious, as is negativity.

3. You get what you put in. You have to do everything for yourself. Wanting to go to practice and performing at my best every second that I’m in the water is ultimately going to lead to my success. If I begin to succeed and show that my hard work is paying off, it could influence my teammates and lead to a domino effect of success.

What is your most cherished honour?

It is being the most decorated French European Youth Olympian. I achieved this while competing at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku, Azerbaijan 2019. During the competition I won 4 bronze medals while also setting a new French National Record in the 100 breaststroke.

What subjects are you studying now?

This semester I will be studying Abnormal Psychology, Russian language, Ice Ages and Philosophy.

What is your dream career and how are you working towards it?

My dream career is to be a pilot. I’m earning a degree as that is one of the basic requirements to become an officer. I’ve also had some experience in flight simulators and have enjoyed it.

To learn more, visit haleeducation.com.

Anand Raj OK