James LeBuke comes up for a breath during a race in the RBC Canadian Junior Swimming Championships in Winnipeg. (Scott LeBuke photo)

Shuswap Selkirks swimmer powers to national level

James Lebuke commits to constant improvement, sights set on Olympics

When he stepped up to the block at his first swim meet with the Shuswap Selkirks swim club, 16-year-old James LeBuke didn’t think he would find himself ranked among the top youth swimmers in Canada less than a year later.

Initally taking up swimming a few years earlier as something to keep him fit and occupied in the minor hockey off-season, LeBuke quickly found much to love about the sport despite struggling initially to compete with more experienced swimmers.

Related: Selkirks swimmers break club records at national meet

“I originally joined (the Selkirks) about a month before nationals last year. I was struggling to make a second swim or even make the ‘B’ finals. It was awesome if I got a second swim,” he says.

Though he had spent time in the pool with the Revelstoke Aquaducks in years past, even setting club records at the 2016 Provincials, LeBuke had not competed against senior-level swimmers before joining the Selkirks and by extension the Swim Canada competition program. However, before long things began to shift. His times steadily improved week-by-week, he saw himself in the finals more often and the thrill of competition kept him working to shave fractions of a second from his times.

“I came back to town after my first meet and started working hard and I made the Development B.C. team because of my performance. So I said, okay, I’ll try to qualify for one camp,” he says. “I don’t know what it was; I had just been training really hard and we improved my stroke significantly and then I made the B.C. provincial team.”

Before the swim season was over, LeBuke’s hard work in the pool would pay off in spades. He qualified to compete in the Western Canadian Championships in Victoria, returning with two bronze and two silver medals. He kept the momentum strong, making the strict time qualifications for the Senior National Competition in Edmonton and setting personal bests. From there the Selkirks went on to the Canadian Junior Championships in Winnipeg and LeBuke became the first Selkirk to win medals at a high-level national meet, earning a bronze and two silver.

Related: Selkirks take podium at Western Canadian Championships

He credits a commitment to constant improvement for his rise in the swimming world.

“I do practise about seven times a week. Some people swim about eight or nine times a week but it seems to have been working out for me,” he begins. “I just have to take advantage of the time I have in the pool. I just have to work harder than other people would in practice. I feel like if I didn’t train as hard as I did I don’t think I would have done as well.”

As for what makes him so passionate about swimming, LeBuke enjoys the focus on individual performance and constant improvement.

“I just love the competitiveness of it, and that it is all on you to do well,” he says. “Previously I had only played team sports, so you know there is a lot of dependence on teammates. But if you make a mistake in swimming, that’s all on you.”

Though he notes that further improvements to his swimming will only come with time and continued hard work, LeBuke has a few things on his mind that he aims to achieve next year.

“I’m hoping to get under the 51-second mark next year, and I’m hoping to compete at a national team meet. I want to maybe medal at a senior meet, it’s been surreal that I have been able to set goals and always exceed them,” he says.

In fact, he is setting some lofty goals that will be sure to keep him occupied for some time to come.

“The goal is to get a scholarship for school in Canada or to the states in the NCAA,” he begins. “Along the line I want to go to a couple Olympics. I’m really competitive so I would love to be the best in Canada… Maybe not 2020 but I am hoping for sure to go to the Olympics in 2024 for swimming and see what happens after that.”

(This story has been corrected from its initial version.)


 

@Jodi_Brak117
jodi.brak@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

James Lebuke (left) accepts a silver medal at the Canadian Junior Swimming Championships in Winnipeg. Lebuke earned a bronze in the 100m freestyle, silver in the 50m freestyle and a second silver in the 200m medley over the course of the competition. (Barry Healey photo)

James LeBuke (right) prepares to dive off the block at the beginning of a race in the RBC Canadian Junior Swimming Championship in Winnipeg. (Scott LeBuke photo)

(From left) Ethan Skofteby, Hunter Stewardson, Molly Fogarty and James Lebuke of the Shuswap Selkirks swim club at the Canadian Junior Swimming Championships in Winnipeg, where they set club records and personal bests. (Barry Healey photo)

The Canadian Junior Swimming Championships saw some of the top swimmers in Canada competing for spots on national teams. The Shuswap Selkirks swim club put their best foot forward and came home with several medals from the competition. (Barry Healey photo)

Just Posted

Caribou Rainforest book tour arrives in Revelstoke

The book is being released just when caribou have become extinct in the contiguous United States.

Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance accepting applications for art grants

Artists in all disciplines—as well as arts and culture organizations—are invited to… Continue reading

Soon-to-be-extinct caribou moved north of Revelstoke

The three caribou are currently being held in maternal pens on the westside of Lake Revelstoke

Syrian family soon to arrive in Revelstoke

Revelstoke for Refuges held an information session at the library on the soon-to-be Revelstokians

Revelstoke resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

Branching out: Making a glass ball at Big Eddy Glassworks

Revelstoke Review editor tries her hand at blowing glass

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

Most Read