City swimmer heading to Deaflympics

By Brian Smiley, Brantford Expositor

Brantford’s Brandon Van Wyk is heading overseas later this month to compete for Canada in the Summer Deaflympics.
Van Wyk and 26 of his Canadian Deaf Sports Association teammates will head to Samsun, Turkey, to compete from July 18-30.
This will be Van Wyk’s second time competing on the world stage as a member of a major Canadian team after taking part in the 2015 World Deaf Swimming Championships in San Antonio, Texas.
“I had a good feeling I’d be on it after 2015, when we were in San Antonio,” said the 22-year-old. “We don’t have a lot of deaf swimmers in Canada that we’re aware of so I figured they’d bring all the veterans back from two years ago.
“I’m pretty excited but I’m also a little nervous, too, because I’ve never flown overseas. This is my first time actually flying over the ocean.
“I’m excited because it’s the end of the season and the last meet is always fun.”
Van Wyk has been swimming for about 10 years. When he’s home, he trains with the W. Ross Macdonald Silver Otters swim team and when he’s not, he’s a member of the University of Waterloo team.
To make the Canadian team, swimmers must meet a certain standard. Van Wyk, who just completed his third year of studying math at Waterloo, is usually in the pool six days a week, doing dryland three days a week and then a completing a couple of cardio sessions on top of that.
He may need some extra practice since he recently switched specialties.
“I used to do breaststroke but I’ve changed to backstroke,” said the son of Virginia and Jeff. “I’ve become really bad at breaststroke.
“I never used to be a good backstroker and then all of a sudden something clicked and I became a much better backstroker.”
While in Turkey, Van Wyk will compete in the 50, 100 and 200 back, 50 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 200 IM and he may do the 200 free. He’ll also swim several relays.
“We’ll be busy,” he said. “Everyone has about one event per day and then between the four men we have three relays.”
In Texas in 2015, he and his teammates set a Canadian record in the 4X100 free relay. This time around, his goals are simple.
“My goal is to definitely get personal bests in all my races,” Van Wyk said. “If not, 90 per cent personal bests will be pretty good.
“I was 80 per cent in Texas two summers ago. I was happy with that.”
Van Wyk said he has had plenty of support during his swimming career and his plan is to continue swimming at least until he’s finished university.
It’s almost become a tough habit to break.
“People ask me, ‘How do you get up at 5:30 in the morning to find a black line in the bottom of the pool for two hours?’ he said.
“Honestly, I don’t even notice the black line anymore. I’ve been up and down the pool so many times I don’t even notice.
“I just do it.”
Van Wyk will post updates on his Facebook page – - for those wishing to follow his progress in Turkey.
He won’t be the only Brantford resident competing.
Kimberly Summers will also be attending the Deaflympics, competing in women’s volleyball.
The Waterford native and former captain of the Canadian team helped her squad qualify last year at the Pan Am Regional Qualifying tournament.
Summers is a former CDSA female athlete of the year.
Athletes at the Deaflympics will also compete in badminton, bowling, judo, mountain biking and tennis.
The Deaflympics take place every four years and are recognized by the International Olympic Committee.