Landing head-first can be one of the most dangerous things to do in sports, but it’s one of the skills 12-year-old Timothy Friesen must remember in his.
Friesen is a diver, and after only six months of competitive training, he is one of four divers competing in the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que., which began Aug. 2 and ends Aug. 17, representing Manitoba. He couldn’t believe it when he found out he made the team.
"It’s a great opportunity and I’m happy to be on the team... I was really happy when I found out," he said.
To prepare for the event, Friesen and his teammates train 20 hours a week which includes diving, of course, but also dry land fitness.
Many of Friesen’s teammates have been training for the games since they were very young. Friesen’s coaches have been impressed by how quickly he has learned the intricate dives.
"Timothy has been a very quick run here," said Dallas Ludwick, head coach of Team Manitoba and the Manitoba regional diving team. "It’s extremely rare to go from getting in a competitive program to the Canada Games in six months. That’s incredibly fast. He’s learned a huge amount of dives in a short amount of time."
Michael Mourant, assistant coach of Team Manitoba, said they prepared Friesen for the fact that he’ll be competing against divers at a higher skill level because they’ve been diving so much longer.
"It’s uncommon, you don’t usually learn that fast," said Mourant. "He’s very young, we don’t want him to get too stressed out or the anxiety can get him. And you don’t want that on the platform."
Prior to leaving, Friesen was aware of the national talent he’ll be going up against, but says it’s an honour to be a part of that group.
"A lot of the divers will be a lot older than me doing a lot of crazy stuff," said Friesen. "There’ll be some divers my age, but lots of them will be doing some really crazy stuff, so competing against them will be a privilege and it will be scary."
He also thinks being the youngest person from Manitoba is pretty amazing.
"Because there are only three other people who are one year older than me. Being the youngest in the province will be cool," he said.
It’s hard to believe it was only a year ago that Friesen and his older brother David were discovered by Ludwick at the Fort Garry Lions outdoor pool just goofing off.
"They were just fooling around," said Ludwick. "But I kept looking over and seeing these kids with super-fast twists, obviously gutsy, and they seemed to be loving it."
It wasn’t until six months later that Friesen and his brother decided to join the team.
Ludwick said Friesen is perfect for diving because of his personality.
"He likes to go for it, likes to do the new stuff and that’s working to his advantage," said Ludwick. "Not afraid to do new things, that’s for sure — definitely this is a sport where you need guts, you need to be thrill-seeking."
Friesen’s father, Daniel, is proud of his son for working hard and accomplishing what he has. He said anyone can see how much commitment the young diver has put into making it to the Canada Games just by noticing the little bit of the swimming pool he takes home with him.
"It’s testimony to a couple things: one is certainly his ability and then talents and his motivations," he said. "But his hair always smells like chlorine, doesn’t matter whether he’s showered or not."