Taylor Girling began swimming competitively just three years ago after finishing lessons at the Woolwich Memorial Centre.
“When she first came I knew she had a natural talent,” said Frank Carbone, Girling’s coach from the Woolwich Wave Swim Team.
Fast forward to today and Girling has just finished off the South Western Ontario Recreational Swimming Association’s semi-final meet in Elmira this past weekend with three individual wins, marking a perfect season for the 14-year-old.
Girling began swimming, as her father Jeff explains, simply because she enjoyed it.
“We have tried many sports over the years, as you do with young children, and nothing else really stuck,” he said. “This was something she loved to do.”
“I have just always really liked the water,” Taylor added.
Girling competes in the girls’ 13/14 100-metre individual medley, the 50m freestyle and the 50m backstroke, as well as two team relays, the 200m freestyle and the 200m medley.
Although the young teen is seeing great success in the pool now, she has come a long way from her first competition.
“At one of my first meets competing in Fergus, I remember having to swim an individual medley. Frank was pushing me to do it so he signed me up – it was something I really didn’t want to do,” she said, noting that that race took her out of her comfort zone and helped her to get over those first-time nerves.
“I ended up getting third in that race at my first time ever competing.”
Before this year’s season, the wins hadn’t always come that easily.
“Last year and the year before obviously wasn’t as good as now,” she said. “I got mostly thirds.”
So where has this gold medal season come from?
She says a huge turning point in her success has been the development of her stroke technique, courtesy of coach Frank Carbone.
“I have definitely worked on technique. I remember my breaststroke wasn’t as strong as it was now because I had something weird going on with my kicking, so I learned how to fix that and now I am doing a lot better in that,” she said.
“Her coach has been really good from year to year motivating her,” added Jeff. “Frank has been constant, he is very instrumental.”
As her coach, Carbone has enjoyed seeing Girling’s progress over the years from the nervous young swimmer at her first meet in Fergus, to the confident athlete that competes today.
“That is one of the best things to see, it is not so much about how well they do its more about how they grow and develop throughout the years. It is good to see that because it’s going to help them in life in a lot more areas than just in swimming,” he said.
Girling is off to compete in the associations finals August 12 in Wilmot, where she will see if she can hold a perfect individual record for the season.
Following the season, she will be heading to Elmira District Secondary School in the fall, where she hopes to start her high school career off swimming for the Lancers.