Nicole Hufsmith is another NSWC athlete who's spent her busy teenage years either on the ice or in the pool. A ray of sunshine every time she bounces through the cafeteria at the club, cracking jokes and smiling, Nicole Hufsmith is an easy role model to follow for both young swimmers and young hockey players.
Nicole's in a transitory phase these days, moving into coaching after a rewarding playing and competing experience as a youth athlete.
KC: Part of wrapping up a busy summer swimming season is the memories that stick with people - coaches, swimmers, parents. Describe your favorite memory from this past summer.
NH: This past season has been one to remember. Provincials were held in Kamloops and our div 1 girls made it in their free relay. They ended up swimming the race three times because of some technical reasons, but they did awesome. During their third and final race, every single coach was up on their feet, even the coaches on different teams. The atmosphere in the pool was crazy and everyone was excited and pulling for the team to win. We were all cheering and waving our arms in hopes it would make the girls swim faster. At the end of the race, they didn’t end up winning a medal. As much as we wanted them to make the podium, the rush and excitement of how they made us feel during the race is what I think swimming is all about.
KC: It sounds like you're a strong source of inspiration for the swimmers you coach. Are there any swimmers you look up to for inspiration? What is it about their training or competition habits that you find inspiring?
NH: For the last two seasons, someone who has inspired me is my cousin Laine. Throughout her swimming career, Laine has always raced against very talented swimmers, so it's been tough for her. However, she never put herself down when comparing herself. She's stayed positive and continued swimming to the best of her abilities no matter who was swimming beside her. This past year, Laine had the best season of her life. She trained smart, worked hard, and even within the last 10 meters of the Provincial Final in 100 fly, she never gave up. I’m proud to say she won that race by 1 100th of a second (0.01 seconds). It goes to show that every second counts. Laine is one of the hardest workers I've ever known, but she also has the least complaints about the workload. She knows that excuses won’t get her further and “taking this one easy” won’t gain her that 0.01th of a second.
KC: Do you take some of your cousin's habits into the offseason with you? What kind of training do you do during the winter?
NH: Haha, well I'm probably a bit busier doing other things. I like being around people, so I'll keep busy working, babysitting and playing hockey. I'm coaching and playing on a team of my own this year. I'm also helping coach some young swimmers during winter maintenance, which is really fun.
KC: I'm noticing a common theme with athletes who spend a lot of time with one sport. What do you like more, coaching or competing?
NH: Looking back on question number one, I’d have to say coaching. I love watching my swimmers work hard, develop, and support one another. Coaching has expanded my swimming knowledge, taught me to communicate with different people, and helped me become more confident in myself. If I can translate that confidence to my swimmers and my hockey players, then that's a huge reward.
KC: Give us 3 things that make swimming similar to hockey.
1. Even though you work on individual skills, you train with your teammates because you are a part of a team.
2. It’s not all about what you do on the ice or in the water. Dryland training, proper nutrition, proper rest and really anything you can do to keep yourself healthy and focussed, these things are all crucial. It's the same for all sports.
3. Swimming and Hockey both involve water…one’s just frozen.
Like Tianna Tanaka, Nicole represents the next generation of coaches (and members) at the North Shore Winter Club. These young athletes hold the values of hard work, determination and perseverance near and dear to their hearts because they've lived it. The exciting highs, the devastating lows - Nicole and her peers will have a hand in shaping the next generation after them.
And it looks like we're in good hands.