If you wanted to find Jonathan Ramkissoon less than a decade ago, you would have had to go all the way to Trinidad and Tobago, a dual nation island in the south of the Caribbean. Ramkissoon, now a computational math and stat double major and varsity swimmer, broke the OUA 100-metre breaststroke record with a time of 1:00:18 on Feb. 13. </p>
Before Ramkissoon studied at the University of Waterloo, he was a regular high school kid in Trinidad who started competitive swimming on the Seahawks Swim Club, in 2007 with his younger brother, Joshua.
For the typical competitive swimmer, the practice schedule is as rigorous and demanding as any other sport, sometimes even worse. It was no different for Ramkissoon, who had his very supportive parents drive him to practice six times a week.
He was not always the force to be reckoned with that he is now. Ramkissoon had humble beginnings and a lot of growing pains to overcome.
While a member of the Trinidad and Tobago national swim team, Ramkissoon travelled to Jamaica for a swimming event. On a plane ride there, a woman asked him who the best swimmer on the team was. He timidly responded, “Those two over there,” pointing to his teammates. He was sitting on the plane, thinking, “What is the difference between me and those guys?”. Since that day he has been training to become the best and he is well on his way.
Every year he continued to perfect his craft, and in 2013 he received an offer from the Univeristy of Waterloo’s math program and to be a member of the school’s swim team
Fast forward to this year and Ramkissoon’s third year on the swim team. His training efforts culminated in the OUA championships.
His performance surprised the other competing schools, especially the heavy favorite, the University of Toronto whose team finished first overall at the same meet. After his race, Ramkissoon recalls hearing people saying “Hey, did you see that guy from Waterloo? He just broke the record.”
His first-place finish gave the Waterloo swim team their first gold medal since 2009. He also finished with the silver medal in the 50-metre breaststroke.
This was a very proud moment for him because back in Trinidad and Tobago, he never emerged as the top-swimmer amongst his peers.
Ramkissoon, unfortunately, is not competing in the CIS swimming events due to a shoulder injury sustained at his last meet. He has been rehabbing his shoulder intensely because he is going to compete for a spot on the Olympic team for Trinidad and Tobago and possibly compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. All he wants to do “is swim and just have fun, the rest will take care of itself.”