Kate Tucker is seen in the Arts and Culture Pool during a recent Corner Brook Reflections Synchro Club practice. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
CORNER BROOK Kate Tucker was only invited to training camp for the experience, but she’s still in the mix for a berth on the provincial squad being groomed for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
Tucker, a Grade 7 student at Presentation Junior High who will turn 12 next month, is one of two athletes from the Corner Brook Reflections Swim Club battling for the right to represent Newfoundland and Labrador in British Columbia in 2015 as the Canada Games unfold at the Olympic venue in Vancouver. Julia Thorp, a Corner Brook native, is the other member of the Reflections who hopes to wear Newfoundland and Labrador’s colours at the Games.
“I really don’t think I’m going to make the Games team but I think it’s a great experience to try for it,” Tucker said. “I don’t think I will make it this year, but that’s OK because I will have lots and lots of experience so that when the next Canada Games come I will be in Grade 12 then.”
The provincial synchronized swimming team for Canada Games will be comprised of eight team members and two alternates with representation in solo, duet and team. The first training camp for prospects saw 48 athletes hit the pool for a chance to represent the province, but that list was whittled down to 23 last month.
Last week, the Games coaching staff cut the roster down to 16 athletes and Tucker was pleased to see she still has a shot at making the team. She received the good news in a letter a couple of weeks ago so she is quite happy that her effort hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I really wasn’t expecting to get a letter saying I could go on, but I think if you try you can do it,” she said.
Tucker has come a long way considering when she got an invite to the initial prospects camp she was told she should just embrace it as a great learning experience. The age bracket for synchronized swimming at Canada Games goes from 13-21 years of age in the year of the competition so Tucker would be a long shot to make the team at 12 years of age.
“It’s going to be harder for her because she’s younger for sure,” Frances Drover, Tucker’s coach with Reflections, said earlier this week. “But it will be a great experience for her, and if she doesn’t make this roster then she will be a shoe-in for the next Games.”
Tucker, daughter of Wayne and Allison, was born in Invermire, B.C. but the family pulled up stakes and moved to Ottawa when she was three years old. She was involved with synchronized swimming on the mainland for three years before Corner Brook became her home two years ago.
According to coach Drover, Tucker has been a welcomed addition to the club and believes the youngster has a bright future ahead of her in the sport.
“For her age Kate is an extremely skilled swimmer. She is very, very dedicated to the sport which is all part of it,” coach Drover said. “She’s very helpful around the pool with the young swimmers and she’s an excellent team player.”
Tucker was active in competitive swimming, dance and gymnastics at one point but it was pretty hectic for her. She decided to pursue synchronized swimming because she felt that would allow her to have the best of both worlds.
“It was a lot to do, but I wanted to keep up in everything so I joined synchro and that was a combination of all of them and that makes it really enjoyable,” she said.
The provincial squad will be allowed to have two girls participate in solo, two more in duet and there is also a team event whereby each province usually has an eight-member contingent. Athletes are allowed to participate in any combination of disciplines or all three if the coaching staff deems it advantageous.
Tucker is hoping to be one of the fortunate ones, but she’s OK with whatever unfolds because she realizes she wasn’t even supposed to survive the first cut let alone make it to the top 16 with a couple of more training camps being held in an effort to finalize the team in early 2014.
Jessica MacDonald and Molly Noseworthy represented the Reflections at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Sydney, N.S. so time will tell who follows in their footsteps.
Tucker could very well defy the odds by cracking the roster at 12 years old. If not, she plans on giving it another shot in her final year of high school.