A change of swim technique set Christopher Williamson back a few laps, adding precious seconds to his race times.
It was an obstacle he had to overcome he said, his brow furrowing as he recapped his year at Bayview Glen, a season that earned him the Town Crier’s Athlete of the Year award.
Serious in the face of winning the top trophy, he stressed one of the challenges he faced when his coaches altered his stroke.
“Mentally and physically I was just very drained leading up to that point,” he said about having a bad race. “I think my biggest obstacle this year has been a lack of success … because of the changed stroke.
“As the years have progressed I’ve been able to develop more acceptance to these less-than-satisfying results.”
It’s been a month since he was featured in pages of the Bayview-Mills Town Crier for making it to OFSAA in three sports: cross-country, swimming and track.
Competitive, no doubt, Williamson’s numbers clearly tell a different story than his lack of success.
He still confesses surprise at being named the top athlete out of 66 public, private, independent and Catholic schools.
“There are a lot of really talented athletes in here,” he said. “I’m really glad to have won this award.”
Adding cross-country and track (3,000-metre as well as 1,500) to his year-round swim routine helped offset his stress.
“I get results in those sports because there’s no technique involved with me,” he said. “There’s definitely a lot of strategy involved in running but it wasn’t this big hurdle I had to deal with like swimming.”
Still, with every question it comes back to the pools, especially when lining up his inspiration. Naturally he mentions his parents Mary Beth and John, who were both in attendance at the awards ceremony.
But 2009 Athlete of the Year from York Mills CI David Hatch also comes to mind.
Swimming with the Granite Gators, the two pushed each other to do their best. Once Hatch graduated two years ago, travelling to school at Western, it left a void, Williamson said.
“When he left the team two years ago, last year I still swam well, but not having him there was pretty weird because we both pushed each other,” he said. “David was the leader on our team.”
The two will do laps again however, as Williamson is heading to London, Ontario for English literature.
Academia is no problem, as he completed his high school career with a 94 percent average. In addition he was a member of the debate team and on student council as the head of communications.
It’s no wonder his favourite class was Writer’s Craft, and he has no qualms arguing for Stephen King’s inclusion on a list of 20th-century geniuses.
“One of the things I like about horror novels as opposed to movies is the movies rely way too heavily on the cheap scares,” he said. “It’s very hard to make a scary novel, you have to rely on the unsettling aspect.
“You can’t make something jump out at the audience if they’re reading it on the page.”
There is one thing that frightens the 18-year-old before he gets to University of Western Ontario: his valedictorian address.
“After speaking twice a week at assembly, I guess it’s kind of fitting that I get the last word at our last assembly,” he said. “I want this speech to be as memorable as possible. I want to do my year justice because they voted for me.”
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