Sometimes, mom really does know best.
At least that was the case for Josh Hiraoka, who only got his start in swimming after his mother put him in the Golden Dolphins Swim Club when he was 10 years old.
“I really hated it when I started…after my first practice I was crying and stuff, it was a mess,” he laughed.
Eventually Hiraoka learned to tolerate, and then enjoy, swimming competitively, and it’s a good thing he stuck with it because it has developed into his clear cut best sport.
So far this season, Hiraoka is ranked number 1 in B.C. in his age category for the 50m butterfly, while also holding down 5th in the 50m freestyle, 7th in 100m fly and 9th in the 100m free.
While Hiraoka’s off-season was spent away from the pool, as it usually is for him, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t getting ready for the swim season just the same.
“I’ve been back (at the gym) and I’ve been doing fly-based exercises, I felt that really helped,” he said. “Especially last year, near the end of the year, I was pretty steady on the fly time and then I started working out and I got a great time at regionals.”
That extra training has allowed him to shave about a second off of his 50m fly time, a huge improvement in just a year.
That’s not to say Hiraoka wasn’t a top competitor last year, however, because he was. He was good enough to make it into the finals in the 50m fly at last year’s provincials, but didn’t have his best swim and finished 5th.
“There were a bunch of factors, it was really cold and I was too amped, I got too overexcited and I started rushing my strokes,” Hiraoka said. “I wanted that medal really badly.”
This year, with that experience under his belt, he has even bigger aspirations as he seeks redemption for last year’s struggles at the provincials, especially in his best event, the 50m fly.
“I’m going to try and get a gold medal. I’ve been holding that (number 1 ranking) for a while…that’s my ultimate goal, because Golden has never brought home a provincial gold medal to date, so I’m going to try and get that first one.”
He will swim in the regionals in Kelowna on Aug. 2 and 3 where he will be aiming to qualify for the provincials in all four of his races. The provincials will take place in Kamloops from Aug. 15-17.
At 17, Hiraoka believes this will be his last season where his focus is solely on swimming, as he plans to work full-time next summer before heading off to university in the fall. Despite his success in the pool, he doesn’t know if a university swimming career is in the cards.
“There’s a lot of fast swimmers out there and I’m not sure if I can keep up,” he said.
So far this season, it’s been the competition that have been trying to keep up with Hiraoka.