Julia Thorp excelling in the pool for her father — and herself
© Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
Julia Thorp is seen in the Arts and Culture Centre pool.
CORNER BROOK Julia Thorp still struggles with the loss of her dad, but she remains strong and continues to strive towards being the best she can be.
Thorp, a 15-year-old member of the Corner Brook Reflections Synchronized Swim Club, has continued her active training regime in an effort to crack the roster for the Newfoundland and Labrador team bound for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
A lot of people in the local synchronized swimming circle wondered if Thorp would return to the pool after the death of her dad, Marc Thorp — a Corner Brook doctor — who died of cancer Feb. 22.
However, she came back strong and shows no signs of slowing down.
“It’s difficult to describe. It’s not like anything I’ve ever been through,” Thorp said of the loss of her father. “Even though he’s gone, a lot of it (her going on) was him because I knew he would be proud.”
Mr. Thorp was an avid swimmer himself and one of the key supporters in Julia’s development as a synchronized swimmer. He even chose the music for the solo routine she performed this year on the provincial and Atlantic Canada scene.
“He was very inspiring, encouraging and overall a great father. The best I could ever wish for,” she said.
No doubt, she thinks of her dad as she pursues excellence, but she admits she’s staying the course because she has to keep focused on her personal goals in life.
“I’m not just doing it for him though. I very much love my sport and I’m doing it for myself and I know he would want that,” she said.
Thorp was born in South Africa, but spent a year in Toronto before the family moved to Corner Brook. She always enjoyed taking a dip in the pool, but then she discovered synchronized swimming and immediately immersed herself in the sport.
“Myself and the sport, we just clicked,” she said.
“I always knew I liked to swim, but I like how this combines a creative aspect with endurance, power and flexibility.”
Thorp, who got involved in the sport in Grade 7, is hoping to be selected as one of eight team members chosen to represent the province at the 2015 Canada Games in British Columbia.
Her coach with Reflections, Frances Drover, believes the young swimmer has worked hard and has what it takes to crack the roster.
“She’s always beating me up looking for extra pool time,” Drover said with a chuckle.
“The second they are coming to you saying ‘Can we do this? ... Can we do that?’ and ‘I need extra time’ that tells you this person really wants to be what they are trying to be,” she added.
Working to perfect her solo routine is foremost on her mind as it gets down to the nitty gritty with only a couple of training camps left before the team is selected.
She wants it bad.
She’s never represented her province on the national stage, but wants to do it because it would make her proud to represent a province she finds very beautiful and the place she calls home.
“I’m really hoping I make it. I don’t know how to describe what kind of an experience it would be,” she said. “I’m trying my hardest to get on the team. It would be a huge, huge opportunity. I would be able to do the sport I love, travel to big competitions and see how I do against the best in the country.”
“It’s all quite nerve-wracking, but deep down I know I just have to keep training and working to the best of my ability because you get out from the sport what you put into it,” she said.
Like any athlete with a desire to compete at an elite level, Thorp maintains a busy schedule in the pool, does a bit of running with her high school team and takes it upon herself to keep fit with dryland training. She is quick to defend it as a challenging discipline that requires hard work and dedication.
“That’s why it aggravates me when people say it’s not a sport because it really is,” she said.
“I know it’s a sport and I don’t have anything to prove to them.”