The Thompson Rivers University varsity swim team announced this week that their first recruit for the 2015-16 season is 17-year-old Taylor Carmichael from Merritt.

“I am really excited to be part of the team,” Carmichael said in a press release issued by TRU Athletics on Feb. 3. “I have been swimming forever, and can’t imagine my life without it.”

A Grade 12 student at Merritt Secondary School, Carmichael said that she made the final decision to attend TRU and swim for the Wolfpack about two months ago.

“I had been exploring the option of swimming down in the States or for some other schools here in Canada, but in the end I just thought that staying close to home for at least the first couple of years was a really good idea.”

Carmichael will be no stranger to the Wolfpack program, as she has been training out of the Canada Games pool in Kamloops for the past 18 months, and her coach with the Kamloops Classics, Brad Dalke, is also the head coach of the Wolfpack team.

“Brad pushes me hard, but it’s really great because he motivates you to do your best,” Carmichael said.

Prior to joining the Classics, Carmichael was a member of the Merritt Otters Swim Club for several years, and competed in the B.C. summer swim program. She medaled at two Provincial championships, and still holds  13 club records.

As a full-time member of the Classics (a year-round club), Carmichael’s training regime has grown significantly. She currently swims in Kamloops five times a week after school and on Saturday mornings, attends two dryland sessions in Kamloops weekly, and swims in Merritt three mornings a week.

Carmichael swims anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 metres per training session. That’s the equivalent of 120 to 360 laps of Merritt’s own Nicola Valley Aquatic Centre each workout.

Carmichael concedes that she is a very busy girl.

“I definitely have to time-manage very carefully and think of things ahead of time,” she said. “Academically at school, I have one spare block each of my semesters, so that really helps with homework and studying.”

Carmichael plans to enrol in the sciences at TRU this September with the goal of possibly becoming a physiotherapist one day.

Growing up, Carmichael swam all four competitive strokes (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly). She continues to train the different disciplines, but has begun to specialize in freestyle — particularly at the middle distances.

“I’m very close to the Western [Canadian] standards in the 100 and 200 free, so that’s what we’ve been focusing on,” she said.

Carmichael has been competing with the Classics this past fall and into the winter. She even traveled to Calgary for one competition. She saved her best performances, however, for her home pool in December.

“It was the MJB Law Classic in Kamloops,” Carmichael explained. “It went really well. I got 100 per cent best times in all my seven events.”

Carmichael’s next major meet is the UBC Open in Vancouver in three weeks time.

“It’s a selection meet for western and eastern teams,” she said. “It’s an open meet, so there’ll be some older, pretty accomplished swimmers there. I’m hoping to get my Westerns’ times at the UBC meet, so that I can move onto the next set of time standards which are the age group Nationals.”

With the Wolfpack, Carmichael will compete CIS (Canadian Intercollegiate Sports) against powerhouse schools like UBC and the University of Calgary.