Dal student confirmed for London Olympics
Ryan McNutt - July 3, 2012
Dalhousie swimmer David Sharpe is officially headed to London – and making history in the process.
Mr. Sharpe was nominated to Canada’s Olympic team back in March after a come-from-behind win in the 200-metre butterfly at the Olympic trials in Montreal. However, because he finished just under the official qualifying time, he had to wait until last Friday for Swimming Canada and FINA, the international governing body for competitive swimming, to confirm his spot on the roster.
He will be the first able-bodied male swimmer from Nova Scotia to ever compete in the Olympics, and only the third able-bodied swimmer period (the first in almost 30 years).
“It’s all starting to come together right now,” says Mr. Sharpe, who met with media and supporters at the Dalplex pool Tuesday morning. Tomorrow, he leaves for Montreal to train with the rest of Team Canada’s swimmers.
“I still have a month more of preparation, and I’m excited to head to Montreal and post a fast time at those meets. It’s been difficult [training the past few months], and the uncertainty added to that, but training is always hard.”
Read also: Dal swimmer poised for Olympic moment (April 24 story)
After Montreal, Mr. Sharpe, a BSc student and Academic All-Canadian at Dal, will travel to Italy with the team for a two-week staging camp before heading to London. He competes in the pool on Monday, July 30. Heats for his event, the 200-metre butterfly, are scheduled to start at 10:38 a.m. London time – that’s 6:38 a.m. here in Halifax.
His family—parents Jim and Helen, and sister Susan—won’t need to worry about the time difference, as they’ll be watching from the stands of the newly-built Aquatics Centre in London.
“It’s so gratifying, when you’ve seen him work so long for this,” says his mom, Helen. “We always knew he had great athletic ability, but this last year he’s really shown his ability to work with his coaches on strategy as well.”
Inspiring future athletes
Sue Jackson, president of Swim Nova Scotia, says having Mr. Sharpe on the Olympic team will be a huge boost for the sport in the province.
“It’s wonderful for all those kids in the pool who have those dreams,” she says. “They now have a face to look up to. They sat on the deck with David Sharpe and think, ‘If he did it, I can do it.’ The dreams get bigger now.”
“When I was a little kid, when I was young, I didn’t have any Olympians walking around on deck, or even anybody on the national team,” notes Mr. Sharpe. “So now, hopefully I can be that guy to the younger kids. They can see me and be, ‘That’s how good I can get training in Nova Scotia.’”
Karen Moore, director of varsity athletics at Dal, hopes Mr. Sharpe’s success inspires other students who want to make athletics part of their lives at the university.
“The biggest message it sends is that you can come to university out east and get to the highest level of your sport,” she says. “I think it will be a great thing for Dalhousie and for swimming programs across Nova Scotia to prove to people that we can train here and reach that level.”
The swim of his life
Mr. Sharpe is a methodical athlete, and he’s razor-focused on performing to the best of his abilities in London. To him, everything else about the Games—the social experience, the other sports, the cultural events—is secondary to the race.
“I’m excited to race, to get up on the blocks and post a good time. After that, I can enjoy the whole Games experience. But I’m going as an athlete, not a spectator; my primary goal is racing fast.
“I hope to get a best time, and have the best swim of my life.”
Mr. Sharpe wasn't the only Dal-linked Haligonian to earn an Olympic spot weekend: former Tigers standout Geoff Harris made Team Canada after winning his first 800-metre national title at the Canadian track and field trials in Calgary on Saturday.