Dallas Walker wasted little time making a splash in her new favourite sport.
Walker, 23, won four medals last month at the Commonwealth Lifesaving Championships at Canberra, Australia.
Making that performance even more impressive was that the Commonwealth event was only Walker’s second in a sport she just took up this year.
“I actually never thought I would come back with even one medal,” Walker said. “I was really going for my personal bests and to show I was a good athlete. I didn’t think I was going to do this good.”
Walker, who set personal bests in all six events at Canberra, made her debut in lifesaving sport with Max Bell Mantas teammates at the nationals in Quebec.
Walker’s performance in Quebec earned her a spot on the Canadian development team for the Commonwealth event, where she won two silver and two bronze medals.
“The summer went by a little bit fast because I was so excited and nervous, and training,” Walker said.
Walker trained on her own through the summer but did not get together in the pool with her teammates until they arrived in Australia.
“We had to get that chemistry, and get it fast,” said Walker, who has a degree in kinesiology and is now studying massage therapy at Lethbridge College.
Walker, who was manager of the Fort Macleod pool and head coach of the Sharks swim team last summer, competed in three individual events and three relays.
Walker and teammates Megan Axenchuk, Elizabeth Wilsdon and Jessica Larson placed second in the women’s open 4×50-metre obstacles relay with a time of 2:05.15. Australia won with a time of 2:04.46.
The team was second in the 4×50-metre medley relay, and also placed third in women’s open 4×25-meter manikin carry with a time of 1:58.30. Australia won the event in 1:38.25.
The Canadian development team placed third overall, earning Walker a second bronze medal.
Walker finished fifth in the women’s open100-m rescue medley with a time of 1:30.69; sixth in 100-m manikin tow with a time of 1:13.37; and seventh in 200-metre superlifesaver in 3:01.84.
The development team was made up of nine athletes each from Alberta and Ontario and one from Quebec.
Most of the athletes did not know each other well when they met in Vancouver for the flight to Australia.
The team stayed at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, with two athletes sharing a room and everyone sharing a common bathroom.
Living in such close proximity allowed the team to bond while in Australia.
“We all became really close,” Walker said.
The Canadian team also had the chance to meet athletes from around the world. Everyone stayed at the Australian Institute of Sport and spent downtime together in the games room and common areas.
“Everyone was so open and friendly,” Walker said. “It was a lot of fun meeting all these people and finding out their backgrounds. It was cool.”
Walker found competing for her country to be nerve-wracking, as she worried about messing up on the international stage.
“Warm-ups were fine,” Walker said. “Standing behind the blocks before my first event was a whole different story . . . I was incredibly scared and nervous.”
After competing in her first event Walker gained confidence and made finals in all her events but was still nervous between events.
To get to the Commonwealth event, Walker had to raise $4,000 which she did with corporate donations from Falcan Industries, Pinecrest Energy and Olympia Trust.
Early success has Walker convinced lifesaving sport is her passion, and she will spend the next months preparing for provincials, nationals and a spot on the Canadian team.
The World championships next year will be held in France.
“I’m hoping to make France,” Walker said. “I’m fighting for one of two spots that are open right now. I have a lot to prove throughout this next year, and when it comes down to nationals I have to be the best.”