Katerine Savard (second from left) celebrating with teammates Chantal Van Landeghem, Kierra Smith, and Brooklynn Snodgrass at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships in Queensland, Australia last August

Canada’s Katerine Savard has podium in sight

Balancing school and swim competition only motivates 2016 Olympic medal hopeful

Amidst a swirling sea of distractions, swimmer Katerine Savard remains on course.

The native of Pont-Rouge, Que. amassed seven gold medals at the 2015 CIS Swimming Championships in February. But it is Savard’s other responsibilities that make her accomplishments even more impressive.

“I just started university this year so it’s been really busy and I’m pretty tired all year,” Savard said, during a break from practice at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre on Monday. “But it’s going to make me stronger.

“I’m swimming in the morning from six to eight and then I have university all day and then I’m swimming again from four to six.”

Heading into the 2015 Canadian Swimming Trials, the 21-year-old posted top-10 qualifying times in the 50m fly (2nd), 100m fly (1st), 100m free (7th), 200m fly (2nd), and 200m free (5th), putting her in prime position to claim a spot on the national team.

Those finishes continue the enormous success Savard has had on the international stage. She has claimed gold all over the world in countries like Spain, Monaco, and Russia.

Her dedication to her craft and her studies at the Université de Montréal leave her little time for vacationing.

“I’m trying to,” Savard said, asked about her sightseeing opportunities. “Sometimes it’s pretty hard, but I’m trying to see the landmarks every place I go. We don’t really have a lot of off-season. Maybe only two weeks per year.

“So this year if I’m going to Kazan (for the 2015 World Aquatics Championships) I’m going to try to travel a bit in Europe after. But I’m only going to have around two weeks so it’s not a lot. After that I’m back to university and swimming.”

Even with a loaded schedule, you won’t hear Savard complaining. If anything, the responsibility falls on her Club Aquatique du Montréal coach Claude St-Jean to keep her balanced.

“She loves it,” St-Jean said. “She loves dry land (training), she loves getting in the weight room. Even when we start tapering and I want to stop the weights, she doesn’t want to stop too far from the meet. Sometimes we argue.”

The results speak for themselves. Savard already has Canadian sprint swimming records in the 50m fly and 100m fly to her name, as well as an appearance at the London Olympics in 2012 and a Commonwealth Games 100m fly record set in 2014.

Through it all, Savard remains humble and keeps a good sense of humour, especially when she thinks about what else she could be doing.

“I’m really bad at every sport actually,” Savard said. “I cannot catch a ball, I cannot pitch a ball, I have difficulties with canoeing – I’m bad at everything.”

Thankfully, when it comes to aquatic competition she is far more confident.

And with university out of the way soon, Savard’s coach considers her to be a serious threat to medal at the upcoming 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

“She swam great all year,” St-Jean said. “She had good results in all the swim meets but she’s tired all the time because she goes to school full time, which she wasn’t doing last year.

“It’s an adjustment for me and for her. But we know that next year she’s not going to school so it’s going to be easier.”

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