Laura Rincon is not shy when it comes to telling people about her Colombian heritage.
Originally born in Colombia, Rincon, her mother and father moved to Vancouver when she was three years old, and to Victoria a few months after. Despite growing up in Canada for the past nine years, she has never forgotten the country in which she was born.
“I’ve never been shy about saying I’m Colombian. I just love how different it is. Everyone is more social, everyone is more happy. Everyone is proud of being Colombian,” said the 13-year-old St. Andrew’s Regional High School Student.
Every few years, she would travel back to Colombia to visit family. However, in between those trips Rincon kept herself busy with swimming.
Rincon began swimming when she was five years old, taking lessons and quickly fell in love with the sport. Soon after she decided she wanted it to be ‘her sport’, and dove into the world of competitive swimming, specializing in the breaststroke.
“I like the feeling of the sport. It makes me happy to be swimming. I can forget about everything and just swim,” said Rincon, adding she’s quite competitive as well.
“I like how different of a stroke it (breaststroke) is. It’s a really competitive stroke.”
Since then, Rincon has participated in a number of competitions, most recently the B.C. Summer Games earlier this summer where she picked up gold in the 100-metre breaststroke and silver in the 200-metre breaststroke. She also competed in the Canadian nationals where she finished third in the team relay and the top 15 in the 50, 100 and 200-metre breaststroke individual races.
Now, Rincon has been selected to join the Colombia National Junior Team to compete at the Pacific Cup, the Latino-American swimming championship in Chile later this month.
As part of the fierce competition to qualify for the 16-athlete junior team, participants had to finish first in any event at the junior nationals in Colombia in June. Rincon finished first in the 100-metre breaststroke.
“I didn’t think I’d make it but I definitely surprised myself. It was tough to make it in. There was about 50 people per event,” Rincon said. “Everyone was trying to qualify to make Team Colombia. There were a lot more people there.”
While she is no stranger to competition, Rincon admits she’s nervous to compete against swimmers from other countries such as Brazil, Paraguay, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and Chile.
“It’s my first time competing on a national team, but I’m excited to go there and hopefully do well,” she said, adding she hopes to medal.
“Since there are so many other countries, I think it’s going to be really competitive.”
No matter what her results are with the Colombian team, Rincon hopes to travel home more frequently so she can qualify for more competitions to represent Colombia in the future.
Rincon will travel to Chile on Sept. 16 ahead of the Pacific Cup on Sept. 28.