Five gold medals, a silver and a bronze on the national stage: Not bad for a swimmer who originally took up the sport because she couldn’t sleep at night.
But that is Chatham’s Genevieve Sasseville, who lit up the pool at the recent Canada Games in Winnipeg.
The 14 year old came home with gold medals in the 50m butterfly, 100m butterfly, and 4x50m, 4x100m and medley team relays, while picking up silver in the 4x50m medley relay and bronze in the 50m freestyle.
Included in the bevvy of gold medals is a Canada Games record for the 50 m butterfly. She swam it in 27.51 seconds, breaking the old record of 27.59.
Sasseville has come a long way from taking up the sport to wear herself out each day.
“At first, I was in dance when I was younger. But I still had a ton of energy. I couldn’t go to sleep because I was so full of energy,” she said.
Enter the Pool Sharks. Swimming works almost every muscle in the body.
“Swimming was the only thing that would wear me out,” she explained. “I really liked it. I stopped dancing.”
Getting worn out led to Sasseville getting better and better as a swimmer. After qualifying for regionals, she decided to see where competitive swimming would take her.
So far, that is the Canada Games. In the future, Sasseville said she’d love to compete at the Can Am Games, or even the Olympics.
When Sasseville took gold last week at the Canada Games in the 50m butterfly, she said she didn’t know she’d earned the record at the time.
“I went to go wait in line to get my medal, and my teammates came up and congratulated me on breaking the record. I said, ‘What record?’ ‘You broke the Canada Games record!’ That was super cool,” she said.
While it may have been the highlight of her time at the Games, it wasn’t the only “cool” moment for Sasseville. She said the entire experience at the Canada Games was incredible.
“It was amazing. I had so much fun and I’m so proud how I, and all of Team Ontario, did. It was super cool to be part of it,” she said.
Taking part in the relay events was particularly exciting, because it was new to Sasseville.
“The relays really stood out. There aren’t as many people at our club, so we don’t really get into relays very often,” she said. “I did four relays. It’s just a great environment; so much team spirit.”
While at the Canada Games, Sasseville wasn’t always focused on the events. She said she was touched by how many people in Chatham-Kent were following her.
“I have to say thanks to everyone who watched on live stream and e-mailed or called. It was really neat to see how many people were watching me,” she said.
It’s been a busy summer for Sasseville. After taking part in national qualifiers in Toronto, she came home for all of a day and a half before heading west to the Canada Games.
But she knew that would be the case, as Team Ontario was picked back in April.
“We were chosen for the Canada Games before the nationals. I actually qualified for it at the eastern championships,” Sasseville said.
Sasseville said she has a few weeks off from swimming until the Chatham Y Pool Sharks take to the water in September.
When she’s back in the pool here, she said she’s in the water about 14 hours a week, and spends an additional three or so doing dryland training.
Her mother, Shannon, said it has been a “whirlwind” couple of weeks for the family that ended very well.
“We were surprised. But you always believe your kids can do whatever they set their minds to,” she said. “We were just thrilled she got selected. To win medals and then to break a record, that was probably one of the happiest days for us.”
As for being the parent of a successful young athlete, Shannon offered advice to other sports parents.
“Take each day as it comes and really follow your child’s lead. It’s their journey,” she said. “We’re supporters. Take it day by day and don’t look too far out. You really don’t know where it will one day lead you.”