Nicholas Sparkes is seen in this October 2013 photo. â Star file photo
As long as Nicholas Sparkes is comfortable with his academic workload, the Corner Brook swimmer wants to return to the pool for a sophomore season.
Sparkes, an 18-year-old former star with the Corner Brook Rapids Swim Club, recently wrapped up his rookie campaign with Memorial Universityâs varsity menâs Sea-Hawks while pursuing an engineering degree.
âItâs nice to have faster friends,â Sparkes said of his introduction to competitive swimming at the college level.
Sparkes was a dominant force on the provincial swimming scene before embarking on his post-secondary education in St. Johnâs where he will spend the next four months on an engineering workterm with Subsea 7, a seabed-to-surface engineering contractor.
He said competing alongside guys his own age who are all pretty fast in the pool has certainly been a rewarding experience. He doesnât doubt his swimming improved in a number of areas, so he has no regrets about trying to excel as an elite student-athlete.
âWhen somebody is next to you, going your speed or faster, it pushes me and I know it pushes a lot of other people to keep up with them,â he said.
Being able to make a smooth transition from high school to college life is no doubt a challenge for a lot of varsity athletes, and it was no different for Sparkes. He didnât grumble about the hectic training schedule, but education is utmost on his mind â something he says he canât lose sight of as he contemplates a second swimming season.
âI want to have the time for (swimming),â Sparkes said, adding heâs remaining optimistic at this point.
âItâs going to be more of a trial the first couple of weeks to see what the courses are actually like, because where they are brand new courses I donât know much about them.â
No matter what decision he makes in the fall, Sparkes is pleased that he put a lot of work into his swimming and embraced the presence of his teammates who helped push him through some of the intense practices.
âMaybe I wouldnât try that hard if I was by myself, but with them there going fast it was a real good push, so I think Iâimproved,â he said.