Swimmer races to Special Olympics nationals
Michelle Tschetter of Morinville will compete for Team Alberta at 2014 summer games in Vancouver
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 08, 2014 06:00 am
Morinville swimmer Michelle Tschetter is counting down the days to the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games one lap at a time.
“I’m focusing on what I have to do to get ready for nationals,” Tschetter told the Gazette on New Year’s Day. “My goal is to do my best and hopefully I can come in first.”
Tschetter, 26, is one of 19 swimmers on Team Alberta's 118-person roster for the July 8 to 12 multi-sport competition in Vancouver.
“This is my first time going to nationals for something so I’ m really proud for making it this far,” said the St. Albert Special Olympics athlete.
A medal-winning performance in every event at the 2013 Special Olympics Alberta Spring Games punched Tschetter's ticket to nationals.
“It’s going to be a really good experience for me to go out there and compete against other swimmers,” said the Morinville Community High School alumna.
A large group of supporters will gather at poolside to cheer Tschetter’s every stroke to the medal podium.
“I actually have family in Vancouver so it works out perfect,” she said. “I’m going to make my family proud.”
Tschetter will find out shortly what events she will swim in at nationals.
“They said that one is going to be breaststroke but I’m not exactly 100 per cent sure what all my events are going to be.”
Tschetter's medal haul at the provincial spring games include gold in the 25-metre breaststroke (her winning time was .02 seconds faster than the runner-up), backstroke and freestyle, silver in the 50m backstroke and freestyle and bronze in the 100m freestyle.
“I’m better at my front crawl and my backstroke than I am with my breaststroke.”
Tschetter hasn't swum competitively since the spring games in late April in Red Deer and will use an upcoming Special Olympics Alberta meet to prepare for nationals.
Her weekly practice schedules include Monday's one-hour session with St. Albert Special Olympics swimmers at Fountain Park Recreation Centre, Thursday's two-hour workout with Team Alberta swimmers at NAIT and Friday’s solo outings at the Peter Hemingway Fitness and Leisure Center. Family members also help her out with extra sessions in the pool.
“I have to practice my breaststroke, the proper technique, and my flip turns,” Tschetter said. “I have to get the proper kick in order for me to do it in Vancouver and once I can get the proper kick going for breaststroke they want to work with me on flip turns.”
Tschetter initially started in the Special Olympics program in softball and her mixed team was the gold medallist at the 2011 Special Olympics Alberta Summer Games in St. Paul.
Last year Tschetter decided to race at the spring games instead of waiting for the summer to play softball and was rewarded with multiple medals.
“I love to swim. I’ve been doing it for four or five years. It’s a good sport. It’s good exercise for you. It helps you build muscle,” she said. “I think there are some people that might be scared of the water but I’m not scared. I enjoy it so much. It’s one of my favourite things to do.”
Tschetter is also busy away from the pool fundraising for nationals.
“I’m getting all my friends and my family members to sponsor me. It’s like a raffle draw so I’m doing that and I have until March to complete the book. I’m going to ask all my employees at work if they will sponsor me too.”
Tschetter performs a variety of duties in the Sobeys’ bakery department in Morinville.
“I’ve been there for seven years and I love it. The people there are really awesome. Everybody is just so good to me,” she said. “I’m hoping they give me the time off to go to nationals but I’m going to make sure I do have the time off to go because it’s going to be an awesome time in Vancouver.”