Tyson MacDonald represents Canada at World Para Swimming Series in Australia
Wilfrid Laurier University’s fourth-year men’s varsity swimmer, Tyson MacDonald, got the opportunity to represent Canada at the World Para Swimming Series which took place in Melbourne, Australia from Feb. 15 to 17. MacDonald competed at the 2019 OUA championships and then made his way to Melbourne as soon as possible since there was not much of a gap between the two competitions.
“It was a little bit of a balancing act, between going from the OUA [championships] and going to Melbourne for international classification. In the end it worked out. I got my national classification and I performed well at both the OUA championships and in Melbourne,” MacDonald said.
International classification is an important achievement as it now allows MacDonald to represent Canada at the Swimming World Championships and Paralympics.
Representing your country is every athlete’s dream and MacDonald is one of the elite athletes in Laurier’s history who received this once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Growing up you always think you’re going to be an Olympian one day, but in reality, there’s only a small percentage of athletes that are actually able to reach that level. Now that I have competed for Team Canada, things are just starting to fall into place. It’s a new territory for me which is kind of cool,” he said.
Although it was a bigger stage than usual for MacDonald in Melbourne, it was just business as usual once he got past the smaller details.
“I am coming back for a fifth-year [at Laurier]. For swimming, that leads perfectly into the 2020 Olympic trials in April. I’m just going to continue training into March and April next year when after my varsity career [is over] and see what happens from there.”
“Luckily for me, I didn’t compete on the first day so I got to see the first sessions and how they worked. For us, it wasn’t a full-on para meet, it was more of an integrated meet with able-bodies swimmers which is similar to our national and provincial level meet so I was familiar with that part. Some of the smaller things like a bigger stage, brighter lights, banner displays and different country flags everywhere stood out. But once you get through the first race, it’s business as usual.”
The Tillsonburg, Ontario native has had an excellent four-year tenure at Laurier, highlighted by a team MVP award in the 2016-17 season. MacDonald is one of the many bright talents on the Golden Hawks swimming roster. Although he was unable to qualify for the U-Sports national championships, he still made his way to Vancouver after his Melbourne experience to cheer on fellow Hawk Jasmine Raines as she captured an impressive third-place finish in the 200-metre breaststroke race.
“Getting to witness the best of the best in terms of U-Sports swimming was incredible to watch. Being there in-person, you get to see many Olympians compete. Swimming is probably one of the biggest sports in Canada that has Olympic representation,” he said.
“Being able to see a dozen or more swimmers that have been on the national team was really exciting to see. Obviously Jasmine [Raines] representing Laurier and getting a bronze medal in a competition that featured another Olympian was really exciting as well.” Although the 2018-19 varsity swimming season is now over, the training and hard work does not stop for Tyson MacDonald, as he has his sights set on bigger things.
“I am coming back for a fifth-year [at Laurier]. For swimming, that leads perfectly into the 2020 Olympic trials in April. I’m just going to continue training into March and April next year when after my varsity career [is over] and see what happens from there,” MacDonald concluded.