Nicholas Sparkes is seen in this October 2013 photo. ‚ÄĒ 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 University‚Äôs varsity men‚Äôs Sea-Hawks while pursuing an engineering degree.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs nice to have faster friends,‚ÄĚ 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. John‚Äôs 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 doesn‚Äôt doubt his swimming improved in a number of areas, so he has no regrets about trying to excel as an elite student-athlete.
‚ÄúWhen 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,‚ÄĚ 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 didn‚Äôt grumble about the hectic training schedule, but education is utmost on his mind ‚ÄĒ something he says he can‚Äôt lose sight of as he contemplates a second swimming season.
‚ÄúI want to have the time for (swimming),‚ÄĚ Sparkes said, adding he‚Äôs remaining optimistic at this point.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs 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 don‚Äôt know much about them.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúMaybe I wouldn‚Äôt try that hard if I was by myself, but with them there going fast it was a real good push, so I think I‚Äąimproved,‚ÄĚ he said.