Before former Killer Whale, Mackenzie Padington, 18, got into the pool for the swimming World Trials finals over the weekend she was upset about her performance the previous day.
But those nerves turned to excitement.
“I was going in first already by three seconds, I didn’t really have anything to lose,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to make the team, I wasn’t seeded by Swimming Canada to make the team, so I had nothing to lose, so that calmed me down.”
Padington won the 400 metre freestyle with a time of 4:09.04, almost three seconds faster than her qualifying swim and more than a second ahead of the next swimmer.
With that win Padington qualified for the World Championship in Budapest this summer.
And the next day, she qualified again, this time in the 800 metre freestyle event with a time of 8:31.68, almost 6 seconds ahead of the next swimmer.
“Just having the crowd there and having so many people from the entire Island just really cheering everyone from the Island along, that got me going a lot,” she said.
In the fall of 2015, Padington moved to Victoria to train in the Canadian Sport Instititue’s Swimming NextGen Program. Because the program is affiliated with Swim Canada, Padington got to swim with Olympians like Hilary Caldwell and Ryan Cochrane.
“Before I moved I thought I was good at swimming but I didn’t think I was great but I got in and I got to swim with the best in Canada and then the best in the world so that had been helping my swimming so much,” she said.
Padington has had some ups and downs with swimming. She moved to Victoria to try and make a national team, she said it has always been her dream to swim with the maple leaf on her cap, and last year she fell short.
“It’s hard to get through swimming back and forth looking at a black line all the time, so I just look forward to the next competition and set my mind to that,” she said.
But now she is seeing her dreams become more of a reality. If she swims fast in Budapest this summer, she could represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games next year, and if she can keep the momentum going she might even make it to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
“That’s my ultimate goal in swimming, but gotta take it year by year,” she said.
After graduating high school and swimming in Budapest, Padington is moving to Minnesota to go to university. She said she hopes to win a Big10 title while she is competing down there to keep the momentum going.