Alberta’s very own Cole Pratt will be competing in his first ever Olympic Games in Tokyo. Cole is from Cascade Swim Club in Calgary, Alberta and is attending the games with his coach Dave Johnson. Cole will be competing in the Men’s 100m Backstroke individually with the opportunity to swim on relays. Cole was able to call in and give Swim Alberta an interview while at the Team Canada Vancouver Staging Camp. Here is what he had to say about his swimming journey and the road to the Olympics!
Cole, Congratulations on making it onto the Olympic Team!
I know you have a very busy schedule ahead, so I’ll just dive into it. How are you feeling right now?
I’m not nervous. I think we got the hard part out of the way and now we’re ready to go out and have some fun. So, I’m excited to do that with all my buddies as well.
What is the most exciting part about going to the Tokyo 2021 Olympics?
The most exciting is that I get to go with my sister. She’s on the synchro (Artistic Swimming) team. So, she’ll be there at the same time as me so that is really cool and something I’m really looking forward too.
When did you start swimming?
I think I started swimming when I was around 4 or so, and I don’t really remember when I got into competitive swimming. Maybe when I was 7 or 8, I want to say is when I remember going to practices.
Did you like swimming at first?
No, I did not! I really did not. I used to hide in the bathroom during practice and I didn’t like it. My mom was actually the coach when I was first starting to swim and I would just hide in the bathrooms, in one of the lockers or in one of the stalls and just wait till practice was over. One day my mom told me “Oh Cole, you missed it! People were sliding into the pool from the pool deck on their bellies”. And I was like “What? I missed out on so much fun stuff.” Then I actually started to do practices.
When did you get into the mindset that you wanted to do this more seriously and take it farther?
Probably when I was 11 years old when I broke my first provincial record, it was the 50 Fly. And I was just so pumped, and all my coaches were like, “If you want to go to the Olympics, it’s a lot of hard work. You just need to work hard and listen to your coach.” That’s exactly what I did.
What was your most difficult moment and how did you overcome it?
It was going into and preparing for trials for last year and it never happened. I was just going through a lot of crappy stuff. I was actually really happy we got into lock-down because that gave me a little mental break and everything. Just taking a step back and to regroup myself so I could keep going on. There was a point where I didn’t want to keep swimming and I just felt like I didn’t want to do that anymore and just thinking about what I was going to do if I didn’t have swimming. There was that sort of point and then we went into lockdown, and I was able to re-group myself for another year.
What kind of things helped you re-group while you were in lockdown?
I know a lot of people were upset and weren’t able to see their friends or their family, but I actually got to see my family more in lockdown than I was with my normal swim schedule. I was happy with that. I think being with my family and not having to stress about swimming and everything was a huge boon to me.
How has your family supported you through your swimming experience?
Oh man! Well, my parents have always supported me. They made everything so much easier, and they’ve given so much for me. There’s not enough I can say to thank them for what they’ve done.
How about your siblings, do you find time to be together with your busy schedules?
We used to be together all the time but now my sisters are going to university and it’s hard for them because they are starting to live their lives. My one sister Taryn, she’s living out in London, Ontario and she’s not swimming anymore but during lockdown she was able to come and stay with us for a while. And my brother is still swimming with our home club, and I got to train with him. I haven’t been training with him in forever so that was really great. And my other sister Halle is a synchro (Artistic Swimming) swimmer and watching her go to international meets and winning was just amazing. She’s a huge, huge inspiration to me doing what I do.
Has it always been your dream to go to the Olympics or have your dreams evolved into that?
I think that going to the Olympics is every athletes dream and every athletes goal is to reach the Olympics, and go compete for your country. I think that’s the highest point you can reach for your sport.
Have you been to Japan before?
I have been to Tokyo for our staging camp for World Champs and had a lot of fun there. Japan is a really nice place from what I saw when I was there.
Fun fact about yourself outside of swimming?
I do play a lot of Dungeons and Dragons with my buddies. We’ve been playing for a couple of years now.
Do you have any advice for young swimmers?
Just love what you do, it makes it all easier.
And don’t hide in the bathroom.
Cole’s first provincial record was July 4, 2014. Since that date he has set over 140 provincial age group and senior records as well as 9 relay records.
Cole currently holds one Canadian short course record and nine National Age Group Records.