After his most recent competition, Patrick Waters is floating.
The Kelowna AquaJets swimmer just returned from Dallas with gold and silver medals from the U.S. Paralympic Nationals.
“This is a really good confidence booster, and I feel really optimistic,” he said. “If I look at this performance versus any other performance in a December … this is 2 1/2 seconds faster than I’ve been any other time. It’s significantly faster. I performed much better. I’m like, ‘OK, let’s keep this going.’”
Waters won the 100-metre breaststroke in one minute 16.08 seconds. He took silver on his relay team. His third event, the 100 butterfly, Waters finished in a personal-best time of 1:08.81. However, because of his class, he was unable to claim a medal.
That didn’t bother him in the least. The 100 breast is his signature event, and winning in Dallas proved he’s ready for the next phase of his training.
Waters has his gaze firmly fixed on the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
“We know that we have, more or less, two training cycles between now and Paralympic trials,” said Waters, 34. “It’s a good check in to see, ‘OK, where are we at now? Where do we need to go?’”
He needs to go to Tokyo.
The Canadian Paralympic trials are set for March 31 in Toronto. It’s a one-and-done event.
Waters will race in a heat, and hopefully qualify for the final.
There is almost no room for error, and earning a ticket to Tokyo requires a combination of good times and top placings.
He attributes his strong showing to a “combination of things.” Waters said he barely stopped swimming all summer. He adjusted his training volume, consistency and communication with coach Emil Dimitrov.
His times and his results have also earned him more support from Swimming Canada through access to physiotherapy, a dietician, strength and conditioning.
Waters, who was born with hip dysplasia that has required multiple surgeries on his hips, pelvis and back, also won a silver medal at the Parapan-Am Games in Lima, Peru, earlier this year.
A father of three, who welcomed a daughter just 10 weeks ago, is a full-time exercise physiologist who actually lives in Kamloops, but travels to Kelowna to train with Dimitrov and the AquaJets three times a month.
As a result, he’s using technology to help keep him focused on his task when he can’t be in Kelowna.
They share video of his training sessions and have started experimenting with GPS-assisted training data.
The technology allows Waters and his team to track his strokes, his velocity and his time under water, among other numbers
“It takes a lot of the guesswork out,” he said.
Now, he plans to swim a few smaller meets — starting with an event this weekend in Kamloops. He’ll also travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., in January before Paralympic trials at the end of March.