Swimmer qualifies for Western Canadian Summer Games

Sophie Bilodeau poses for a photo with her coach, Hazem Hussein. Submitted photo.

When Sophie Bilodeau finished her 200-metre breaststroke race at the ManSask swimming championships in Winnipeg earlier this month she saw 2:50:85 staring back at her.

“I was shocked,” the swimmer said.

The time was fast enough to qualify Bilodeau for the Western Canadian Summer Games, a goal she’d been training for since December.

“It was a huge feeling of relief that after all of these months of training for it, I finally qualified.”

Bilodeau has been swimming competitively for five years. She’s found some success during that time, swimming the 100 and 200m breaststroke races in the 2018 Western Championships in Victoria, and posting team records in the 50- 100- and 200-metre breaststroke, as well as a record in the IM discipline.

Bilodeau — who turns 15 between qualifying for and competing in the Western Canadian Summer Games — has been posting club records since she was 12.

“When I saw her look up at the clock after her swim, she had the hugest grin I had seen in a long time,” said Bilodeau’s mother, Carolyn.

Bilodeau trains at the Frank Dunn Pool. She swims for two hours, seven days a week. Her coach, Hazem Hussein, first floated the idea of qualifying for the summer games in December.

“It’s a lot of work, and it’s really hard to attain that goal,” Bilodeau said. Swimmers have to post a certain time in competition to qualify.

“I wasn’t sure about it (when my coach told me about it), but then it got closer and I said it would be a really, really cool experience. I’m really excited. I’m very happy that I did.”

She isn’t the only one. In a press release, Hussein said he’s “proud” of the swimmer.

So is mom.

“It was amazing. She’s worked really, really hard. She’s trained hard and this was one of her goals. It was amazing to see her get that time. She had really, really big smiles,” Carolyn said.

“I’m really proud of her. She’s worked hard to get to where she is.”

For Sophie, those club records and those improving times have served as a motivator, helping her push to get better and better.

“I see that I’m improving and doing well,” she said.

She also said that her success is thanks in part to those who have supported her along the way.

“My coach definitely because I couldn’t have trained and done it without him,” she said.

“Definitely my parents, who continue to support me, and lots of my friends.”

Now, Bilodeau’s focused on the Western Canadian Summer Games, set for August 9-18 in Swift Current.

“I’m super excited,” she said.

“I feel very accomplished because that was one of my bigger goals for this year. I’m excited about what it will bring for me.”