Local athlete brings home gold from provincial swim meet

August 3, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Orangeville swimmer Matthew Blackwell recently competed at the Ontario Swimming Championships at the Pan Am Pool in Scarborough and brought home a gold medal. 

He received first place in the 14-year-old boys 100 metre butterfly event with a time of 59.14 seconds – the fastest time ever posted by a member of the Orangeville Otters.

A member of the Orangeville Otters for seven years, Matthew began competitive swimming after taking swimming lessons and progressing faster than the other kids. Someone recommended he join a swim club.

He joined the Otters and found he had a natural talent for competing in the water. He started competing in the sport at age eight.

“I always liked the feeling of my progression and getting faster and learning new things,” Matthew explained. “The only hard part is trying to eat enough food,” he joked.

This isn’t the first time Matthew has won gold. He has won medals in competitions before, but as he gets older and more experienced, he knows the other athletes are doing the same thing, and the competition becomes tougher. However, that just means he works harder to to compete.

“It’s what I’ve been training for all my life,” Matthew said. “Normally we train an hour and-a-half every day, then go to dry-land training and weights for an hour. For small meets we train normally, but for these big meets we take it easy so we can feel our best going to the competition.”

Matthews’ specialty is the butterfly. The butterfly stroke is considered one of the most difficult swimming strokes that requires physical strength and coordination.

Swimmers typically rest up the few days before a big competition.

“As a coach you have to impart a training stimulus that causes the body to adapt, so every cycle of training we look at, we look at trying to do something like more volume or we’re doing it faster, and then as we go into a meet we have to try to back off so they can recover from the strain of their muscles and they feel energetic and explosive,” explained Rob Taylor, Matthews coach, and head coach at the Orangeville Otters swim club.

Rob said he recognized the competitive spirit in Matthew as soon as he joined the swim club.

“Some people have a born desire to race – they feed off the competition and big pressure moments elicits the best of them. I think Matthew has that. He has the ability to race based on the importance of the competition.”

With his skill and determination, Rob thinks Matthew has the potential to become an Olympian with a few more years of training, competition and experience.

Matthew will be competing in the Canadian Swimming Championships in Scarborough from August 1 to 6.

“I hope to beat my best time and maybe win something,” Matthew said.

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