Third-year computer science student and varsity swimmer Cameron McCuaig has been finding ways to stay in shape and train at his house over the duration of the pandemic.
McCuaig said he joined the University of Waterloo’s varsity swim team in his first year. “I was thinking of not doing it because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle it with school, but it was an amazing decision and I love swimming while going to school. It’s the best feeling,” McCuaig said.
Prior to the pandemic, McCuaig would spend approximately 14 hours a week swimming while attending six to eight hours of lectures each day. “You have to stay on top of everything. You have to start all assignments early. There’s no slack time,” McCuaig said.
McCuaig first began swimming with the Region of Waterloo Swim Club at eight years old. He began taking swimming more seriously at age 12 and started training seven to eight times a week.
McCuaig said he feels swimming gave him direction in life and met coaches who helped guide him in his journey from high school into university, particularly regarding work ethic. He also found swimming to be an outlet. “When I’m in the pool, I forget about everything outside of the pool. It gives me a way to escape almost all the stress,” McCuaig said.
McCuaig also mentioned that being part of the varsity swim team allowed him to build a sense of community and learn how to be a leader. “It teaches you how to motivate other people. Just teaches you a lot about how to better connect with people. I swam competitively for a club and I never had this kind of community. So, it also gave me a sense of community,” McCuaig said.
During his first season on the UW’s varsity swim team, McCuaig broke two Canadian para records for the 50-metre backstroke and 100-m backstroke and proceeded to beat these two records again at the 2020 Ontario University Athletics Championships. McCuaig was also a medalist at senior nationals for para-swimming.
He was also invited to Swimming Canada’s Para Development Training Camp, which was set to be held in 2020 but then was cancelled due to the pandemic. This exclusive training camp is meant to train athletes for major upcoming athletic events, including the Paralympic Games.
“For people who want to or are thinking of being student athletes and think that it may be too difficult to handle with school, always try it out first. Don’t have that mindset because you don’t know how difficult it will be until you try it. If you’re good enough to be on a varsity team and want to do it, try it out first before giving up,” he said.