Fruitvale swimmer Eden Kormendy is channeling her inner beast and taking her game to the next level as she gets set to compete in the Speedo Western Canadian Swim Championships starting today in New Westminster.
The Swim Natation Canada (SNC) short-course event will see Kormendy, 13, race against the best swimmers in western Canada in the Youth, 15-and-under category.
The SNC event is the highest level of competition that a athlete has attended.
With the image of a beast embossed on her swim suit, Kormendy roared to national standard times at the recent Snow Fest in Kelowna in January and at the B.C. AAA short-course provincial championships in Kamloops earlier this month.
The determined and dedicated swimmer made the mark in not one but six different events, compelling chartered professional swim coach Bill Park to acknowledge that she was indeed ready for the national stage.
“For a 13-year-old that is very good swimming,” said Park in an email. “Racing swimmers who are older than you is good experience and Eden needs that level of competition experience to continue to improve.”
Kormendy won gold in the 800-free and 400-Individual Medley, silver in the 200-IM, and bronze in the 200-breast at the AAAs, and qualified for and will compete in the 50, 100, and 200-metre breaststroke, the 200 and 400-metre IM, and the 800-metre freestyle. She will also race in the 400-free.
“Qualifying at age 13 is a big deal,” added program director and coach Eve Fournier. “Eden has done the work, and deserves this opportunity to gain the experience.”
The TWSC swimmers have all flourished under coaches Park and Fournier, winning multiple medals at the AAAs, and, more importantly, improving their strokes, and achieving personal best times in almost every race.
For Kormendy, her record-setting 800-metre free shocked most of the competition at the AAAs, but her focus has been on excelling in the 200 and 400-metre IM, a race that includes all four disciplines: the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.
Years ago, Coach Park worked with Alex Baumann at Laurentian University, the Olympian who would go on to win double-gold in the 200 and 400 IM at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
His expertise has certainly helped in Kormendy’s progress.
“Her focus has been on the IM this year . . . her goal is to try to get on the prospects squad, and again the word prospects is key she’s going up against 15 year olds.”
The athletes Kormendy competes against at the Westerns will undoubtedly be her stiffest competition for the next several years, and a strong indication of what it will take for her to be successful at the national level.
“Eden has the potential to be a really good university swimmer, and that is the focus of Canadian swimming,” added Fournier. “Canadian swimming promotes long-term athlete development model. I mean this kid has what it takes.”
It will also give Kormendy a chance to see some of the country’s top swimmers perform, as the athletes in the Open category (16 and over) include the country’s fastest university swimmers, and likely some who will compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.
“This is the beginning for her of high-performance swimming. You can’t say it’s high performance at 13 years of age but for her it’s the beginning, it’s the foundation, the body, the building blocks. Eden is going to be a dynamite university athlete. There will be coaches that definitely want her on their team.”
While the TWSC swimmers train hard hitting the pool up to nine times per week, the program is based on a proactive, injury-prevention approach that focuses on an individual’s progress through proper development, and a solid foundation in all four competitive strokes.
“Bill is the kind of coach who is extremely patient, and who will work with kids at their pace in a safe manner, and that’s why he gets the results he does,” said Fournier.
But more than that she adds, it’s about building a team and having fun.
“I tell her (Kormendy) straight up you can’t be too intense, you have to have fun,” says Fournier. “If you are not enjoying the sport, there’s no way you can do the training, it’s way too hard.”