Courtis swims for Barbados

File photo by Heather Davidson

File photo by Heather Davidson

This past month Christopher Courtis had the unique opportunity of representing his country on one of the world’s largest stages.

After an exceptional career swimming for the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks for the past two years, Courtis qualified for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland this summer and swam for his native country, Barbados.

“It was a fantastic experience to represent my country. Any time you get to represent your country at an event such as that, it’s quite special,” he said.

Courtis has been a prominent swimmer for the Golden Hawks; he holds four backstroke records for the school, and finished fifth in the 50 and 100-metre competitions at nationals this past year.

Participating in the Commonwealth Games was an opportunity for Courtis to represent his school in addition to his country.

“A lot of people asked me if I still train at home in Barbados, and I said no, I train at a university in Canada: Laurier,” he said.

“Not many people had heard of Laurier obviously, but it was good to get the school on the map.”

In the games themselves, Courtis made it to the third heat in both the 50 and 100-metre backstroke competitions and finished seventh in both. While he didn’t take home a medal in either, he said the experience of the games themselves was reward enough.

“I can’t complain … it was very motivational, because now that I’ve been there obviously I want to go back. It helps when you go to these meets, you now know the hard work is paying off and it’s worth it,” he said.

Above all, Courtis said the most rewarding part of his time in Glasgow was his opportunity to meet, learn from and watch the exceptional swimmers from various other countries, such as two-time Olympian Brett Fraser from the Cayman Islands.

“Talking to him about what he does and how he trains was great,” he said.

“Even sitting on the pool deck and watching these guys race is a fantastic experience.”

For Courtis, this is just a small step in his journey as a swimmer.

At just 20 years of age, he has his sights set on bigger and better things. He plans to qualify and swim at the Pan American Games in Toronto next summer, followed by the World Championships.

His ultimate and final goal is two years down the road in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the 2016 Olympic Games.

“I think I’m on the right track. I’ve got a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but it is definitely attainable,” said Courtis.

Courtis will not be returning to Laurier this year; instead he will be heading west to the University of Calgary to swim and train with one of Canada’s top backstroke swimmers, Russell Wood.

“I chose to go to Calgary because I wanted to be a part of a larger swim program with more depth within the team. It was something I felt I needed to change and do to make that next step,” he said.

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