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Young athlete to represent Canada at Festival of Lifesaving

Thursday, 03 August 2017. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Young athlete to represent Canada at Festival of Lifesaving
Taylor Deley won two gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the Canadian Pool Lifesaving Championships in June. After her huge wins, she was selected to join Team Canada at the Commonwealth Festival of Lifesaving in Durban, South Africa.   Photo by Traci Deley-Carlson

Young athlete to represent Canada at Festival of Lifesaving

By Tyler Ryan

At six years old, Taylor Deley started swimming, but she quit after a year because she had no desire to stay in the pool.

Fast-forward six years and Taylor’s mom, Traci, enrolled her in swimming again, partly to stave off the boredom Taylor complained about during summer vacation.

After four years of swimming — three with the Max Bell Mantas team in Lethbridge — and many hours of training, Taylor competed at the 2017 Canadian Pool Lifesaving Championships this June, winning five medals — two gold, a silver and two bronze.

“I started out with another swim team, as just a sport that I thought I could try, and it turns out that I love it,” Taylor says. “It’s my absolute favourite.”

When Taylor started with the Mantas, the team was not very competitive, she says. But along with her friend and fellow Pincher Creek athlete Jarret Plante, she became a lot keener on competing.

She raced in the World Lifesaving Championships in September 2016 and that’s when she heard the national team was looking for swimmers. She was set on getting a spot on the team.

Taylor’s determination, and support from her family, kept her going back to the water and she has now been selected to represent Canada in a series of upcoming competitions: the Commonwealth Festival of Lifesaving in South Africa from Aug. 8 to 12 and the Orange Cup and German Cup in November.

Taylor says she wasn’t fully expecting to be selected for the national team because there were more-experienced swimmers at the competition.

She was both shocked and excited when her name was called.

“The second-oldest on the team is in their 20s and I’m 16, so that was a little different being the youngest,” she says.

During the preliminary rounds of the lifesaving championships, Taylor broke some of her personal records and that success pushed her to the final round of competition.

She raced in nine events over the span of two days in the women’s 19-and-under category.

Her two gold-medal performances came in the 100-metre tow with fins and the 100-metre manikin relay open.

In the tow with fins competition, Taylor swam 50 metres while wearing large swimming fins and carrying a tow rope.

“It kind of looks like a big banana behind you,” she says. After swimming the initial 50 metres with the big yellow tube, she strapped an 80-pound manikin onto it and towed everything across the finish line.

“You only have five metres to strap [the manikin] in,” she adds. “If you go past the five metres then you’re disqualified.”

Her silver medal came from the 100-metre carry with fins, a race where athletes need to swim 50 metres, grab a 100-pound submerged manikin and haul it back across the finish line.

She was also awarded a bronze medal in the 200-metre medley relay. Each relayer had a different role. Taylor was the third swimmer and needed to pull a tow rope to the last member of the team, who was already in the water.  

“The third person touches the wall and the fourth person has their fins on, grabs the tow rope and hauls [the third swimmer while they’re] holding onto the end of the tow rope,” she says.  

She received her final bronze medal in the women’s pentathlon. These medals are awarded to athletes based on points accumulated during the competition.   

After two days of competition, Taylor says, “I was so tired. As soon as I got to the hotel, I was out.”

Last month, Taylor competed in four events at the Southern Alberta Summer Games. She won gold in all of the competitions.

To maintain her fitness, Taylor usually trains at least two hours a day, with one hour dedicated to working on different swimming strokes and diving techniques and the other hour spent in the gym.

Taylor hopes to become a certified lifeguard in the near future. She has her bronze medallion, which is the second step toward Canadian lifeguard certification, but there are a few more things that she needs, such as completing standard first-aid certification.

Taylor also hopes to compete in the Canadian Lifeguard Challenge next year. She did not get a chance to travel to Nova Scotia for this year’s meet because the dates are much too close to those of the Festival of Lifesaving in South Africa.

The Canadian Lifeguard Challenge is an invitational competition hosted by the Lifesaving Society of Nova Scotia. Athletes participate in a variety of beach events that include surfing and many races that take place on the beach, in the water, or both.

She hopes to continue coaching as well.

“I’ve been asked to coach here in Pincher Creek,” she says. “I was an assistant coach back in January and February.”  

With balancing school, work and her personal life alongside her swimming obligations and training, she says her schedule is always jam-packed and it can be a bit stressful at times.

However, the personal satisfaction is more than enough to keep her coming back and she says it’s rewarding knowing all of her hard work has allowed her to achieve the level she has reached.

“It’s just a relief,” she says. “I’ve been able to get this far and I know that I can try to get farther.”

As the Deley family heads to Taylor’s competition in Durban, South Africa, we wish her the best of luck.

Read more in this week’s online edition here.
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From the August 2, 2017 print edition of Shootin’ the Breeze.
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