A Red Deer College student and Red Deer Catalina Swim Club member was successful earlier this month at the 2015 Western Canada Games held in Fort McMurray.
Hidde Guerts, 20, brought home four silver medals and one gold medal from the games in which he also broke one of his personal best records.
The talented young athlete competed in the 50m freestyle para, 100m freestyle para, 100m breaststroke para, 100m butterfly para and 100m individual medley para event, in which he reached his goal of medaling in all his events.
Guerts is no stranger to the international platform having competed in the 2013 Canada Games in Sherbrooke, Quebec, as well as the 2013 Special Olympics Nationals in Vancouver, and the 2014 Alberta Summer Games in Airdrie.
Having graduated from Notre Dame High School in June 2014, Guerts is currently enrolled at RDC where he will begin open studies in September.
“I’m committed to the sport because I love the water; feel one with the water.” said Guerts on his chosen sport. “I want to go all the way, hopefully one day I’d like to be in the Paralympics.”
Anneke Willers, Guerts’ mother, explained the star swimmer took his first lesson at the age of five, advancing through the Red Cross children’s program but was not swimming competitively during this time.
At 16 he joined the Special Olympics Swim Club in Red Deer and the following spring joined the Innisfail Dolphins Swim Club where he would win his first medal at a local competition in Ponoka allowing his spot at the Canada Summer Games.
“I had to make qualifying times to compete alongside regular athletes in Quebec as a Special Olympian,” explained Guerts adding, “It went well; I was fifth for the 50 and 100 metre back, fifth for the 50 metre Breast and ninth and eleventh for the 100 metre and 50 metre freestyle. Overall I came out as fifth in my category.”
Guerts is an active member of the Alberta Sport Development Centre where he takes part in training to gain strength in the pool.
“THE ASDC gives me great dry land work outs and overall more knowledge that will help me to be a better athlete,” said Guerts. “I’m a big fan of the United States swimmer Michael Phelps who has won more Olympic medals than any other athlete in history including 11 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.”
The pool isn’t the only place the rising elite athlete gained recognition after he was given a Mayor’s Recognition Award in 2015. This award recognizes individuals and teams placing first in a national event.
With only four short years of experience in the pool as a competitive swimmer, he also plans to continue swimming with the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club as well as furthering his education and pursuing his swimming goals.