Burlington  competitive backstroke swimmer Kristina Steins talked recently living in Port Hope  Now about the challenges of trying to get to the Olympics.

For the past twelve of the twenty years of her life she has been focused improving her performance with one goal in mind: getting to the summer Olympics. This year she almost qualified. Less than a second stood between her and getting to Rio. Rio qualified B cut. Now training for 2020.

Her struggle is one that is replicated across the country by Olympian hopefuls who train and work just as hard as those who represent Canada. Yet, because of circumstances, reasons that cant be controlled, they dont make it.

To Kristina it seems like most of her life she has been been getting up at long before sun rise to train in swimming pools always located far away. As a consequence unlike other children who spent their spare time playing Kristina spent her many of her hours riding in automobiles where she had to catch up on her sleep and do her homework.

Then there were the long hours training. Most children dont spend two hours to four hours a day in a pool. In the beginning she swam with the Northumberland Aquatic Club for four years. She lived in Cobourg and travelled to the Jack Burger Arena in Port Hope. The long distance travelling began, some times two times a day, daily 6 days per week when she began commuting between Northumberland and Whitby, the home of  the Whitby Dolphins. That relationship lasted for four years. Needing more intensive coaching she switched over to Burlington Dolphins Swim Club where she trained with Cecil Russell a level 4 coach who has coached three swimmers to the Olympic podium.

Once she received a full scholarship to a University of Louisville, Ky for swimming she got a break from commuting. She signed up for a four year program in exercise science.

Unfortunately, the swim program at Louisville didnt give Kristina the training she needed. So, she returned to working with her Canadian coach Cecil Russell. She was back to boarding away from home commuting sometimes during the week and always on the weekends.

During the past four years she has switched countries. No longer representing Canada, she moved over to representing Latvia her familys country of origin. Canada was slow to release her and the complications to switch over to Latvia wore on her emotionally she says.

During the past few years she has been travelling around the world to compete. She has won gold many times and greatly increased her personal best time. When she hasnt won it has been by hundredths of a second. This past Spring presented a season of challenges for Kristina. In Ireland although she won her race she had to do so with a bathing suit that split open during the competition and caught water like a sail catches wind. In London at European Championships she didnt have her coach on hand. The week spent in country was lonely and unsupported by the

Latvian team and that was reflected in her performance. Getting accreditation with the Latvian team was traumatic she says the process plagued with delays.
Then most recently just before an important race in Riga Latvia that she was counting on to ace so she could qualify for the Olympics, she came down with Strep throat. Says Kristina, when asked to comment about the difficulties she has encountered this year, getting Strep just before Latvia was icing on the cake.

A fierce competitor, Kristina does not wear her emotions on her sleeve. She is disappointed that she didnt make the Olympics, but she isnt complaining. Instead she is looking towards 2020. Time is on her side at this point. She will be 24 at that point. For a competitive swimmer she could easily look at 2024 as well as a possibility.

For now, she wants to catch up on Life a bit. She plans on continuing to swim and train with an eye to nailing her qualifying time for the WORLDS in December. But it is also time to have a little fun, sip a fat-laden milkshake or two and think about finishing her education and getting a job.