James Dergousoff won the 100m and 200m breaststroke events at the Canadian Trials last week. Photo: Swimming Canada/Scott Grant

James Dergousoff won the 100m and 200m breaststroke events at the Canadian Trials last week. Photo: Swimming Canada/Scott Grant

Kootenay Boundary swimmer punches ticket to world championship

James Dergousoff swam to first place in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke at the Canadian Trials

A national-level swimmer with roots in the Kootenay-Boundary region has punched his ticket to the World Championships.

James Dergousoff swam to first place in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke at the Canadian Trials in Victoria last week, while also placing in second in the 50m.

It was his first foray back into competitive swimming since missing the opportunity to represent Team Canada at the Tokyo Olympics by less than one second during Canadian Trials last year.

Motivated by watching the recent Winter Olympics in China and seeing Canadian athletes having success in their disciplines, Dergousoff decided to take another run at his Olympic dreams, and began training in early March.

“I figured I should put my hat back in the ring and I’m more prepared than I’ve ever been because I’m fresh mentally, and that’s a huge advantage over everything else; being in a good mind state,” Dergousoff said.

Indeed, the margins for error are slim in the pool, if missing a spot on the Canadian Olympic team comes down to seconds, or even one-tenth of a second.

In the recent Canadian Trials in Victoria, Dergousoff won the 100m breaststroke by 0.45 seconds over second place, and had an even slimmer margin in the 200m breaststroke, winning by 0.08 seconds over second place.

Following the Canadian Trials, Dergousoff was one of 32 athletes named to the Canadian roster that will compete at the FINA World Championships in Hungary. John Atkinson, Swimming Canada High Performance and National Coach, said he was impressed with the performances in Victoria, in a news release.

“Trials are always exciting and seeing the performances through the week shows the athletes are in a great position leading into the summer championships, to work with their coaches to build and improve at the World Championships and Commonwealth Games,” said Atkinson.

Dergousoff, who was born in Christina Lake and had been living and working at the aquatic centre in Grand Forks until recently, is back in Quebec City, having joined Laval University’s swim team and training under coach Pat Paradis.

In the coming months, it’ll be a busy globe-trotting tour for Dergousoff, who will head to Europe for a swim meet later this month, then back to Canada for a few weeks. Then it’s off to Budapest and Hungary for the FINA World Championships in July, before coming back home for a few weeks, and jetting back overseas to England for the Commonwealth Games in August.

With eyes on the 2024 Summer Games in Paris, Dergousoff will be making a third run at competing for a spot on the Canadian Olympic swim team.

“I think what I’m bringing into this next one is just I’ll be ready whenever that day comes,” Dergousoff said. “I could be ready on 300 separate days, but all I need to be ready for is that one day and when that day comes I think I’ll finally be ready to perform, because there’s only one day that matters.”

Dergousoff, 25, has already had a long career in the pool, specializing in breaststroke, where he’s made his mark at the national level.

He represented Canada at the 2019 Pan Am Games, and was also part of a team that took a bronze medal in the 4X100-m medley in the 2015 Pan Am Games.

He first made waves over a decade ago, making his way onto the Development Program through the 2011 Prospects Imitative and was also selected into the same program a year later. He also represented Canada at the U.S. Youth Tour, and North American Challenge Cup in 2012.

He hit the world stage in Dubai in 2014, representing Canada at the FINA World Junior Championship.

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