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Katherine DeClerq | Fulcrum Staff

ROOKIE SHERRY PATEL made her mark in university athletics last Sunday during the Ontario Cup swimming meet, where she brought home a gold medal in the 50M butterfly, a  silver in the 100M butterfly, and a bronze in the 100M breaststroke. In preparation for the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Championships in February, the Fulcrum sat down with Patel to talk about her goals and expectations for the rest of the season.

Fulcrum: What program are you in and why did you choose to come to the University of Ottawa?
Patel: I’m in first year of biomedical. Ottawa was always my first choice. I really liked the program here, and the swim team when I met them. It’s also a great experience living on my own without my parents.

Have you always been a swimmer, and if so, for how long?
I’ve been swimming for almost four years now. In high-school I did triathlons, cross-country running, and track and field. I joined my high-school swim team to keep in shape for the track and field season, and when I ranked third in my region and qualified for [the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations], I decided to join a club team. I swam for three years with the Oakville Aquatics Club, and currently swim with the Mississauga Aquatic Club.

Can you describe a typical week of training?
A typical training week for me includes four morning practices before class, usually starting at 5:30 a.m., five afternoon practices, three weight-training workouts, and I also run once a week.

What are your goals for the OUA Championships and the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) meet?
I’m not sure yet what I’m swimming at OUA’s, but my goal will definitely be to [get a] medal in all my events and hopefully the relays as well. The team as a whole is looking really good in the water now; I’m sure we’re going to have a great meet. Heading into CIS, my goal is to be top three in the 50M butterfly.

What has been your best race, personally?
My best race has always been the 50M butterfly. It only took me two tries to qualify for nationals in the 50M butterfly during the long-course season. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities racing some of the top flyers in Canada. Last summer I had the opportunity of racing side by side with the Canadian record holder in the event. I set a best time and was ranked 17th overall in Canada for the event in the current season.

Do you see yourself as pursuing an athletic career post-university?
My career goal is to be a sports medicine physician. I want to have a professional career, but still be involved with athletes and have a relationship with them.

If you were a fish, what fish would you be and why?
This question stumped me for a while! I had to ask my friends what fish they could see me as. My mother and I both agreed that I would make a good pufferfish. They’re pretty small, but they can stand their ground against bigger fish. All they have to do is puff up and become a ball of spikes. I’ve had a lot of coaches come up to me before and say they didn’t expect me to be as competitive as I am, or as fast as I am, given that I’m quiet and haven’t been training that long.