Pictou County Mariners Shania Wong and Kristin MacKinnon have committed to the Acadia Axewomen swim team for the 2014-15 academic season. Both are from Pictou and graduate from their respective high schools in June.
PICTOU – It’s been five years since a Pictou County Mariners swimmer was recruited for a university team – this year they’re making a splash.
Two members of the Pictou based team have committed to the Acadia Axewomen swim team for 2014-15 academic year. Kristin MacKinnon and Shania Wong, both of Pictou, didn’t know if continuing to swim competitively after this year was a possibility, but hoped it would happen.
“I always wanted to keep swimming after high school at the university level, but thought I would look at Dal because all our meets are there,” said MacKinnon.
“Then I looked into other options for kinesiology and it was ranked the highest at Acadia. I know that’s what I wanted to study, plus it’s in a small town instead of a big one.”
St. FX was the school Wong was looking at for kinesiology, but similar to MacKinnon, she wanted to keep on swimming. After she visited Acadia she knew it was the school for her.
“I really liked the friendly environment,” said Wong. “It was very welcoming. Like Kristin said, kinesiology at Acadia is ranked the best and that’s what I want to take to continue in sports, so it’s a perfect fit.”
When it comes to the swimming aspect they both said Acadia coach Chris Stone is enthusiastic about the sport and having them join the team. The pair both talked to him at a meet in November about going to Acadia before going down for two days to practise with the team in January.
“I had the chance to stay with a second year on the team that’s also in kin, so that was really nice to have her to answer a lot of my questions about school and the team,” said MacKinnon. “Everyone on the team is so nice. Being on the team adds to your busy schedule, but it makes it easier having people that have been there before, doing school and swimming at the same time.”
Pictou County Mariners co-coach Ed Stewart said that both he and Tara Fanning have enjoyed coaching the girls the past number of years and expect they will do well at Acadia starting next year.
“It’s exciting because it’s been a number of years since we’ve had a grad go on to swim for a university program and I think Acadia is a good fit for them,” said Stewart.
“They’ve had good performance results in their meets and the Acadia coach saw them compete and can follow their results online. They’re looking to fill gaps in their program and having not talked to him I can’t say too much, but the strokes and distance they swim will help fill the needs Acadia has.”
MacKinnon, a student at Pictou Academy, specializes is back and free, while Wong, a student at North Nova, focuses on breast and fly.
Both swimmers got to where they are in similar ways, although one has been a member of the Mariners longer than the other. Each completed swim lessons and stuck with swimming by being a member of the swim team.
MacKinnon has been a Mariner for 12 years, while Wong has been a part of the team for six.
“I did swim lessons as well, but after I finished didn’t have anything else to do,” said Wong. “Mom and coach Tara talked and that’s how I got into competing and stuck with it.”
Outside of water Stewart said both swimmers will bring a lot to the Acadia program with their leadership abilities.
“Shania uses her intensity to push kids, while Kristin has a relaxed, positive way about her that appeals to other kids,” he said. “Both take direction well and are always looking for ways to improve as athletes.”
In preparation for September both expect to be in the pool training more than they have in the past. MacKinnon said she has taken the last few summers off, but this year will work hard to stay in shape for the fall. Wong expects to be running more to keep up her cardio, possibly training for another 10k run.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity to go there and keep swimming,” said MacKinnon. “It will be a little different because I’ll be moving from high school to university and the last year I’ve spent more time on academics than swimming. When I get there I’ll be putting more time into swimming than this year, but the same amount to academics. It will be a busy schedule, but I’m excited for it.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris