By Noelle Smith
Fresh off of smashing a 22-year-old record at the just-concluded Guyana Teachers Union National Schools Cycling, Swimming and Track and Field championships, Leon Seaton has his eyes on accomplishing bigger things.
To put it mildly Seaton wants to be great.
Seaton’s motivation to achieve greatness in swimming is fueled by his love and passion for the water and how it makes him feel.
It would appear that the choice of swimming over karate was the right one for the youngster.
In an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sports, the Silver Sharks’ Club 11-12 swimmer has his eyes, mind and heart set on achieving great things in the foreseeable future.
The biggest goal of his swimming career is to go to the Olympics.
“I want to go to the Olympics,” he told Stabroek Sport.
“I don’t just want to go to the Olympics, I want to earn my spot on the team. It is my plan to make a qualifying time to go to Tokyo in 2020 and show the world that Guyana has top swimmers who can compete among the rest of the world,” he added.
The second form St. Rose’s High School student is not just focused on swimming, he is also very much committed to the academic part of his life. He recalled that he swam during the time while preparing for the Secon-dary Schools Entrance Examinations and pointed out that he did really well. For a student/athlete, being able to balance training time and sport time is a task that one has to master early and Seaton believes that he has been able to do so already.
“My schedule is swimming in the morning, then I go to school, go back to training in the evening; whether it be gym/dry land or pool again, then I go home, get my work then then sleep. The next day the same thing goes on again and that’s the cycle,” he said.
He wants to be a “well-educated athlete” when he is ready to ease off of competitive swimming.
Swimming sensation Seaton became the boys under 14 champion while representing North Georgetown (District 11) at the championships, in the process, obliterating a meet record that stood untouched for 22-years at the National Aquatic Centre, Liliendaal.
At the age of five, Seaton began his swimming career as he wanted to learn how to swim. His advent into the sport was a result of his parents wanting more for him outside of just school.
“My parents wanted me to do an extra-curricular activity instead of just going to school and then home. My options were either karate or swimming, and well, it became swimming,” he recalls.
“I have always liked the water. I enjoyed playing with and in water growing up. The water is my friend.”
The GTU Schools Swimming National Championships where Stabroek Sports caught up with Seaton coincidently was the competition where Seaton made his debut as a swimmer.
He appeared for the first time at the ‘GTU Nationals’ in 2013.
“My very first competition I took part in was at one of these competitions; a GTU Nationals. In that first competition I jumped in the pool and started crying. The next year was the same thing. It was only until the third year that I began actually swimming and since then I have been doing well at these meets,” Seaton recalls.
It would appear that his choice to undertake swimming was the right one as he has done exceptionally well for himself in the pool for the little time that he has been involved in the sport.
Swimming in the boys under 14, representing North Georgetown (District 11), Seaton participated in the 50m freestyle, backstroke and the 200m freestyle relay events attaining personal best (PB) time in the 50m freestyle event which he said was his major focus going into the competition.
However, even though he emphasized that the PB in the 50m freestyle event was his main objective, the officials and supporters of the youth were far more interested in the fact that after twenty-two years a record held by former national swimmer Nicholas Fraser was broken.
The 50m backstroke record was rewritten by Seaton when he swam a time of 31.44s.
When asked about how it felt to have broken a record that stood for so long, Seaton responded that it felt nice to be the one to do it.
“Nobody before could have done it and to be the one to break it after many years feels wonderful. It adds to the feeling to know that the former record holder was present was it happened,” he enthused.
Seaton is not new to having his name written in the record books though. At the XXIII Goodwill Games where Guyana earned a third place finish behind Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname, he rewrote five records over the three days of competition. The Goodwill Games is a developmental meet which aims at propelling young swimmers into meets such as the Carifta Games, The Caribbean and Central American (CAC) Games, Junior World Championships and to even reach the Olympics.
At the XXIII Godwill Games held here in Guyana the competing teams came from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, The Bahamas, Grenada, Suri-name, St. Lucia and of course the host team, Guyana.
Swimming in the boys 11-12 years category, Seaton competed in 13 races, including three relay and won medals in 12.
His medal haul at Goodwill Games are nine gold, two silver and one bronze and he has established records in the 50m backstroke (31.72) 50m butterfly (29.20), 50m freestyle (26.18), 100m freestyle (58.19) and 200m freestyle (2.10.37) events.
Asked to comment on how he thought he did at the Goodwill Games he said, “I think I did really well. I am proud of the achievement I made especially since I won a lot of the races I was entered in and the records I broke. Goodwill this year was a good one for us (team Guyana) as well because we ended the competition in third out of seven teams, which says a lot about the level of swimming coming out of the country.”