By Cole Pratt

Junior & Senior National Swim Team Member

The biggest obstacle the next generation of young athletes face is committing to hard work. Becoming the best you can be in your sport, takes hard work and commitment, which unfortunately is something kids don’t really understand. You’ll have young, talented athletes who keep improving up until they get to 14 or 15 years old but they get to the point where they don’t improve and it discourages them to stop working. It’s frustrating because they are talented but they don’t see or understand it’s hard work that will get them to the highest level.

To know why I feel this way, you need to know more about me. My name is Cole Pratt. I am 17 years old, I am on the Junior National Team, as well, this year I qualified for the National Swim Team. I won 13 gold medals at the Western Canadian Championships this summer, achieving personal best times in 6 events and I broke Canada’s 15 – 17 record in the 100m back earlier this year at the Canada swimming trials.

Photo Credit: Ian McNicol/Getty Images

I don’t share this as a list of the things I am proud of. It’s the opposite. I don’t have something I am super proud of, yet, because I am still working towards my end goals. To get to the next level in my swimming career, I am very unlike a typical teenager. My schedule is very focused, purpose-driven. Here is a look at what my typical day looks like during the week:

5:00 am – Wake Up

5:15 am – Leave for the pool

5:40 am – Activate

6:00 – 8:00 am – Swim Practice

8:30 am – Walk to School

9:05 – 3:20pm – School

3:30 pm – Walk back to the pool (listen to motivational music & speeches)

4:00 – 5:30 pm – Swim Practice

5:45 – 6:30 pm – Dry-land Training

7:00 – 8:30 pm – Dinner, Homework, Bed

I am not 100% sure what my ultimate goal is, but I do know I want to go to the Olympics and win a medal for Canada. This year I want to get on the 2020 team for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and then 2024 is when I know I’ll have a fighting chance for a medal.

My hope in opening up about my experiences and my swimming career so far is that I can inspire young athletes to work harder. In the last few years, I have had kids come up to me and say that I inspire them, which means everything to me. Swimming is my love, my passion and it has inspired me, which is why I want to give back to this community that has done so much for me.

My career has been filled with many ups and downs; I know it isn’t always easy. I’ve had my fair share of setbacks. Last year for example was my most discouraging year inside and out of the pool. I broke my wrist early in the season, I sprained my knee during a training camp and was barely able to kick and or swim going into the summer. But I persevered, and at the end of the season meet, I was hungrier to get back into the sport. It translated into having an amazing season this year, which sets me up well for the Olympics next year.

My past experiences have made me tough as well as resilient. Plus both my parents have been a huge influence on my life. Both were competitive swimmers, so they know what it’s like. They infused in me that hard work would get you places if you set your mind to something. I would say that mindset and attitude is what sets me apart.

And just quickly, a word to al the other swimming parents. Try and never pressure your kids into performing well. I know a lot of my friends were good swimmers and then their parents would say, if you don’t get the best times, I will take your phone away for a week. My friends would then feel pressured into it and they stopped loving the sport. It became more of something they had to do, instead of something they wanted to do.

If young swimmers love what they do, listen to their coaches, try new things, learn, grow, and work hard, I truly believe they can and will progress in the sport. I am not doing anything special. I am going in, doing what’s asked of me and coming out with results. Then some kids go in, only do half the work and wonder why they’re not performing as well as they hoped.

Hard work always wins.

Oh, and if you see me at a swim meet? Don’t be afraid to come and say hello. I would love to hear your story and help you where ever you are along your swimming journey.

See you in Tokyo,

Cole