By EMMY CURTIS
After a hiatus since 2019, the PanAm Aquatics Water Polo U17 Championships are making a comeback, and local student Colin Thomas will be there competing.
Thomas is a member of the Team Canada squad that will be taking part in the tournament in Bauru, Brazil from April 2 to 8.
A Grade 11 student at Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute, Thomas is in the school’s Birchmount Exceptional Athlete Program (BEAP). This program offers a unique approach to the athletic development of students, with a strong focus on education as the top priority.
BEAP provides its student-athletes with a supportive environment that includes an academic staff, coaching team, parent contributions, and community partners. The program is designed to teach athletes about a range of important topics such as education, training, mental preparation, nutrition, and goal setting.
Thomas’ journey in the sport of water polo began at the age of seven. Prior to discovering his passion for the game, Thomas had been taking swimming lessons. As fate would have it, his parents noticed his talent for swimming and suggested enrolling him in the water polo program to enhance his skills as a swimmer. Little did they know that their suggestion would lead to a remarkable journey for their son, a member of the Shadow Water Polo Club, who will now be representing Canada at the PanAm Aquatics Water Polo U17 Championships.
The top five men’s teams from that competition will qualify for the World Aquatics 2024 World Youth Championships.
The PanAm event next month in Brazil will see 12 countries representing the four zones of the Americas.
Thomas told Beach Metro Community News he is eager to contribute to his team’s success and is excited to be taking part in next month’s event.
“It is an honour to have been chosen to represent my country. The training, and dedication over the years has paid off,” he said.
Canada’s best-ever performance at the PanAm Aquatics Water Polo U17 Championships was third place on the men’s side, which they earned in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
Thomas said this year’s Canadian team will be looking to improve on those past performances with an even higher finish.
He was asked how growing up in the Greater Toronto Area impacted his career as a water polo player, and said being able to get high quality training at a world class facility was one of the key reasons.
“We lived less than 10 minutes from the training facility, the Toronto Pam Am Sports Centre. Which was very convenient as high-performance training is scheduled five to six times a week,” said Thomas
This regular access to training facilities at the PanAm pool has contributed to his success in the sport of water polo by providing him with the necessary resources and opportunities to improve his skills and performance, he said.
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