Vanderbeek and Raines in the spotlight

Photos by Marco Pedri
Kate Vanderbeek [left] and Jasmine Raines [right]/Photos by Marco Pedri
The Laurier women’s swimming contingent is on pace for a historic season.

The team has already experienced a number of individual and relay successes and was recently ranked inside the U-Sports top ten for the first time since 2006.

Leading the way for the purple and gold this season are a pair of star performers, each with their own history of success.

Kate Vanderbeek is no stranger to the spotlight. The fourth-year kinesiology student has been one of Laurier’s most successful athletes throughout the past four years, earning the team’s most valuable player recognition each of the past three seasons to go along with a rookie of the year nod in 2014.

Conversely, first-year swimmer Jasmine Raines has already had a huge impact on the program early on in her rookie campaign. The Kitchener native has seen tremendous success so far this season, consistently dominating the breaststroke events.

For Vanderbeek, one of the top swimmers in the OUA and holding a particular supremacy in the backstroke events, her success in the pool has not always come without consequence. A competitive swimmer at the ripe age of four, Vanderbeek quickly discovered that she had the potential to be one of the best.

After qualifying for the Olympic Trials at just 13-years-old, Vanderbeek was certainly on the radar, receiving attention from multiple NCAA schools years before she could — as per NCAA Clearinghouse regulation — make any verbal or written commitment.

But the demands of the sport began to take their toll and Vanderbeek stepped away from swimming at 16, relinquishing a potentially successful swimming career, in the effort to pursue a normal teenage life.

Upon completing a diploma program in police foundations at Mohawk College, Vanderbeek set her sights on Laurier to pursue a degree in criminology in Brantford; however, those plans would quickly change, after a return to the pool. Following a five year hiatus, Vanderbeek’s love of the sport begain to flourish once again.

Vanderbeek transferred into the kinesiology program at the Waterloo campus, so that she could turn her full attention toward competing as a Golden Hawk.

“At this point, I walked onto Laurier’s swim team with a burning passion and a renewed sense of desire to compete,” she said.

“I had a break from swimming, but I was back, I was ready, and I was on a mission to be at the top again.”

Since joining the Golden Hawk squad, Vanderbeek has been nothing shy of dominant, recognized as the team’s top swimmer in each year she has competed.

Vanderbeek has been exceptional in the 50, 100, and 200 metre backstroke events, while her commitment to bettering other strokes has allowed her to help the women’s squad become a force in the relay disciplines.

The Hamilton native is quick to credit both her coaches and her lifestyle for her continued success in the pool.

“[My coaches] instilled some pretty amazing core values and good habits into me. Without the training and support I had from 10-16 years old, I do not believe I would be the same swimmer I am today.”

Vanderbeek explains that her dedication to training with purpose, as well as living a healthy lifestyle that allows her body to fuel and recover properly, is a huge reason that she is able to perform so consistently.

With a veteran like Vanderbeek leading the way, it’s no surprise to see talented young swimmers like Raines making extraordinary contributions to the team early on.

Raines has added her exceptional breaststroke prowess to the Golden Hawk lineup this season, a huge reason that the team has seen their overall success push them to being one of the top programs in the country.

Much like Vanderbeek, Raines believes in the importance of practicing with a purpose, citing her work ethic as a reason for the success in her young career.

“I think a lot of the success comes from hard work,” she said. “It is a lot easier to come to the pool each day and give it your all when you have a goal and you are on a mission to accomplish it.

As the season progresses, both women have similar goals in mind. On individual levels, Vanderbeek is focused on making U Sport Finals in the 200 metre Individual Medley and in her best event, the 50 metre backstroke, while Raines hopes to see an OUA podium finish in the 200 metre breaststroke.

Vanderbeek, Raines and the rest of the Golden Hawk swimming team are back in action on January 8 at the Guelph Varsity Invitational, serving as a tune-up for the OUA Winter Invitational running January 20-22.

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