VICTORIA – Chantal Van Landeghem knows the recipe for success is hard work. She’s shown it on her remarkable academic results and she’s confident it will translate into berths on the Canadian teams for the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships this summer.
She’s in Victoria competing at the Canadian Swimming Trials through Saturday in hopes of qualifying for both.
Out of the pool, the 20-year-old from Winnipeg recently won the Elite 89 Award presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s championships.
Van Landeghem, in her second year at the University of Georgia, boasts a 4.0 GPA and is majoring in psychology. She has been named Presidential Scholar and has been chosen for the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America Team and the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll.
“I totally wasn’t expecting that award at all,” said the 20-year-old freestyle sprint specialist. “It’s pretty exciting. There are always challenges for student-athletes and you just have to find the right balance. I’ve been pretty lucky because the teachers have been quite accommodating with my swim schedule. So when I have major meets they always work with me to help me catch up on school work.”
Georgia’s senior associate head coach Harvey Humphries has been impressed with his Canadian protégé.
“Chantal really epitomizes the ‘student’ part of student-athlete,” he said. “She’s not afraid of hard work, either in the classroom or in the pool. We’re really proud of her for this recognition. She certainly is deserving of it.”
At the NCAA Championships, Van Landeghem and compatriot Brittany MacLean of Etobicoke, Ont., (named top female swimmer of the national championships) helped Georgia to the national women’s title. Individually though, Van Landeghem was hoping to fare better, especially in her last competition before the Trials.
“It was OK but not as good as I wanted it to be,” she said. “I’m trying to figure out with my coaches the areas I can do better and hopefully fix it in time for trials. Making the Canadian team is my big priority and an important goal to achieve for me this and every season.”
Her focus remains the 50-m and 100-m freestyle. An ankle sprain and back injury set her back in her training a couple of weeks this past winter.
“For my 100, the turns have been a lot better this year even though my times haven’t exactly shown that,” she said. “Technically I probably had some of my best races at the NCAA championships. I came off the wall really well and held my speed a lot better.”
Last year, Van Landeghem was a key member of the national team as she helped Canada’s women’s 4×100-m freestyle relay lower the Canadian record twice at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona.
With Commonwealth Games set for Glasgow, Scotland, in July, followed by Pan Pacs in August in Gold Coast, Australia, her next goal is to add some individual highlights to her international resume.