The Sparkes are flying in the pool, if no other place — sibling rivalry being all it is, and all it is not.
Adding to their life as roommates, aspiring engineers and varsity swimmers with Memorial University’s Sea-Hawks, Corner Brook’s swimming Sparkes brothers, Nicholas, 22, and Daniel, 20, are working their own terms, working it out, and working out 8 times a week.
It’s good they live close by.
A winter of competition awaits in Atlantic University sport.
The competitive pair thinks it’s all a good thing, taking comfort and credit for the added training each brings to the other’s life in the pool, as well as for the daily chores that come with their being St. John’s roomies. They are pleased also to share near-campus accommodation with a close cousin who can help out around the house.
They are happy to mix it up in the pool, in fun, and in focus, too, of course, as the Sea-Hawks get ready to launch themselves upon the waters of the Kemp Fry Invitational swim meet.
It is the start of the AUS season at the Dalhousie University MultiPlex in Halifax Nov. 17-19. Nicholas is in his fifth and final year of eligibility with the MUN team as Daniel embarks on his third.
Meanwhile, the brothers take turns with sideshow bragging rights in their unsung sibling waterpower rivalry, according to older brother Nicholas.
“Sometimes he beats me. Sometimes I beat him.”
That said, Daniel keeps it low key and concedes it is “nice having family around …nice to go home” at the end of long days.
The proximal campus location he shares with brother and cousin is another benefit in terms of getting in key early morning practice at the Aquarena and the Memorial pools.
Daniel specializes in weight-training-enhanced 50- and 100-metre freestyle power events which, he says, offer to give him better rankings travelling the AUS circuit this year.
“I’ve been getting my speed up a lot sooner than I have in previous years,” Daniel said of his latest performances.
Nicholas, as a more experienced team racer, brings varsity-level challenges in strength and endurance events including medal hopes in butterfly and individual medleys.
On the educational side, both are involved on degree program work terms this semester. Nicholas is with Kraken Robotics, a marine technology company currently involved in underwater surveys, and Daniel is in the process discipline with Husky Oil, a global energy partner.
That has helped make a difference to fulfilling the goals of their swimming regimes and regimens. The brothers agree the on-the-job part of their career training is not as stressful and less time-consuming than the class attendance and the after-hours academics that will resume after the university’s Christmas break.
With extra book work and collegiate racing both coming into play on the other side of the holidays, Daniel remains confident for achieving time trials that he sees progressively translating into personal best swims and maybe a podium spot or two.
Nicholas, a proven medalist during his first four years with the Sea-Hawks, is modest in his “hope for a good year” for his last as member of the team.
Pending career outcomes in his chosen field, he says he “may take a couple years away” from swimming competitively and pick it up at masters’ level meets later on.
Starting off this year, Daniel says he’s pleased with his first six weeks of progressive technique and intensity training under Duffy Earle and Chris Roberts.
To say nothing of any siblinging, such pre-varsity tests are about are “about keeping swimming fast in your bones,” Daniel said, adding he’s grateful for the opportunity to travel with the Sea-Hawks again this year.
Like Nicholas, a fourth western Newfoundlander attached to the 10-member MUN men’s team, medalist Ryan George of Deer Lake, swims his last year this year as well.
“Yep, both those boys will be going their way, and leaving me to the sharks,” said Daniel.