Jessica Winter is probably faster in the water than some fish

Ed Kapp
Sports Writer

When Jessica Winter first began swimming competitively, her intentions were admittedly modest.

“As far as I remember, I just really liked swimming, I liked being in the water, and I liked playing around, so that’s what I did,” recounted Winter, a second-year science major.

Although Winter claimed she has always been a good swimmer, she didn’t necessarily excel in the sport from the onset.

As she spent more and more time in the water, however, Winter – who has traveled across Canada and the United States to compete – began to achieve more and more success in the sport.

According to Winter, she came to the conclusion that she could potentially shine in the sport around two years ago.

“At age-group nationals, when I was 18 … I made an A final in my 400 (freestyle) and that was huge for me,” Winter explained. “Going from never making a final in my life to being there and competing was nice. I think that was a moment where I decided that I might have a bit more potential left than I thought I had.”

Winter’s confidence, she claimed, was further compounded when she took her talents to the University of Regina Cougars swimming team.

During the 2010-11 campaign – Winter’s first season with the Cougars – she finished in ninth and 10th place in the 800-metre freestyle event at the Canada West championships and CIS championships, respectively.

This January, while en route to helping the Cougars women’s team claim seventh place at the CanWest championships in Edmonton, Winter came in fourth and fifth place in the 400-metre freestyle and 800m freestyle, respectively.

In the coming weeks, Winter is to travel to Montreal to represent the Cougars at the CIS championships – where she will be looking to improve on last year’s 10th-place performance.

While Winter insisted she is by no means looking past the CIS championships, she is to return to Montreal in March to try to qualify for the forthcoming Olympic Games.

Much like when Winter first took to the water, her ambitions in March – which is to be her first experience at an Olympic-qualifying event – are quite humble.

“These are very, very fast guys,” Winter said with a laugh. “It’s definitely not within reach this year for myself, but it’s still exciting to go there and say, ‘Yeah, I had a shot,’ you know, and to see who gets named to the Olympic team. It will definitely be a fast meet – fast and exciting.

“I’m expecting to go best times and race and have fun and enjoy what I enjoy, which is racing … I just want to go in there and race hard and enjoy it, because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Regardless of where she goes in the sport from here, Winter – who intends on someday practicing medicine – claimed she is more than appreciative of the impact the sport has had on her life.

“Swimming truly has shaped me into the person that I am today,” Winter offered. “Training and competing has taught me how to handle high-stress situations, how to set and achieve goals. Quite honestly, it’s made me the person that I am today and I’m very grateful for it. Very grateful.”

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