Sparkes full of confidence heading into Atlantic University Sport swimming debut

Dave Kearsey
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Nicholas Sparkes of Corner Brook will make his debut at the Atlantic University Sport swim championships at the Aquarena in St. John's this weekend.

ST. JOHN’S  Nicholas Sparkes will probably have a few butterflies in his belly this weekend, but he’s amped up for his debut at the Atlantic University Sport swim championships.

Sparkes, a rookie who is a former Corner Brook Rapids swim star, will suit up for the host Memorial Sea-Hawks varsity men’s team at the AUS championship this weekend at the Aquarena in St. John’s.

“It’s pretty exciting for your first season to experience it all at home,” Sparkes said Tuesday while taking a break from his studies at MUN. “I’m going to feel a lot more comfortable that’s for sure.”

Sparkes will be looking to turn heads in four disciplines against the top varsity swimmers representing Dalhousie University, Acadia University, University of New Brunswick, Mount Allison University and the University of Prince Edward Island.

His first event will take place Friday when he wears the Sea-Hawks logo in the 400-m Individual Medley. Saturday’s hectic race schedule at the Aquarena will see Sparkes put it all on the line in both the 50-m and 200-m butterfly, the latter of which he believes will be his strongest discipline at this stage in his development under head coach Aaron Dahl. He will wrap up the weekend by lining up for the 200-m Individual Medley (IM).

“I’m good with the way I’m leading up to it,” he said. “I’ve been training pretty hard throughout the year and I had some pretty good meets so I’m feeling confident heading into it.”

Some of the top swimmers in Atlantic Canada with several years of training at the AUS level stand in the way of his quest to win a medal and help his team deliver a memorable performance for the hometown fans.

He’s not really going to worry about who is who in the pool, however. He just has realistic expectations and wants to do his best and see what happens.

“Hopefully a few best times and I’m going to try to make some finals for sure, and maybe depending on how I swim I might medal we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.

No doubt, he said, there is a lot of excitement because it’s first event and it happens to be at home, but he’s quick to point out he wants to perform well because he doesn’t want to disappoint anybody. He wants his teammates, coach and parents to be proud of him at the end of the day.

“You got a bit of pressure there, but I’ve had that pressure forever so,” he said.

Of course, fans of swimming in the province will have a great opportunity to witness a large group of high-level varsity swimmers strut their stuff in the pool.

It’s been a long time since that opportunity presented itself.

This marks only the second time Memorial has hosted the AUS championships with the first dating back to 1984 where the host men’s team captured the crown.

The current reigning AUS champions — the Dalhousie Tigers — who are currently ranked seventh (women) and eighth (men) in the country, will be seeking to defend their 2013 titles.

For Sparkes, being able to see how he stacks up against the best is something he will embrace. Having his mom Sandra Sparkes watching from the sidelines is certainly going to make it even more meaningful for him in his debut. His dad Wendell Sparkes, a former Memorial basketball player, won’t be available to make the trek across the island because he has to work.

“She’s only missed like two meets in her whole life. It’s nice,” he said of having his mom watch him swim at home.

Organizations: Atlantic University Sport, MUN, Dalhousie University Acadia University University of New Brunswick Mount Allison University University of Prince Edward Island.His Sea-Hawks

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada

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