Nfld. & Labrador

Olympic-sized dream: St. John's teen picked for national synchronized swimming team

A young woman from St. John's is making big waves on the national synchronized swimming scene.

16-year-old Catherine Barrett living and training in Toronto with Synchro Canada's Senior Next-Gen team

16-year-old Catherine Barrett of St. John's is one of 10 swimmers from across the country recently chosen to train with Synchro Canada's Senior Next-Gen team in Toronto. (CBC)

A young woman from St. John's is making big waves on the national synchronized swimming scene.

Catherine Barrett, 16, is one of 10 swimmers from across the country recently chosen for Synchro Canada's Senior Next-Gen team.

The team is basically a training pool of athletes that will be monitored by coaches from the national team, something Barrett describes as a "stepping stone" to her dream of being an Olympian.

"I'd love to go to the Olympics some day, possibly 2024," she said. "It seems really far away but that's a big dream of mine."

A young woman from St. John's is making big waves on the national sychronized swimming scene. Catherine Barrett is one of ten swimmers from across the country recently picked for Syncro Canada's Senior NextGen team. 3:16

Barrett's swimming career started in St. John's at the seasonal pool in Bannerman Park back in 2009. After training with the local team until 2014, she decided to contact Synchro Canada to start making connections.

That's when she learned about the Next-Gen team, which eventually accepted her and set her up with a host family in Toronto to live with so that she could begin her training with the national coaches.

"They're like my second family, and I've gotten really comfortable living in their house," she said.

"It's a big sacrifice but I really just want to go as far as I can with the sport."

Proud father

Catherine's dad, Brendan Barrett, found it hard to see his daughter move to Toronto to train when she was just 14 years old, but he's proud of her accomplishments.

He said she always had Olympic dreams, but after discovering synchronized swimming found her calling which eventually led to her deciding on her own that she wanted to move to Ontario to join the Next-Gen team. 

Brendan Barrett has faith that his daughter can handle being away from home at age 16 to train with the Next-Gen team. (CBC)

Catherine's maturity and dedication to both school work and her swimming passion gives her dad confidence that she can handle the responsibility of being away from home to train at this stage in her life.

"It's been difficult. At 14, you certainly don't feel like your daughter is ready to leave home," he said.

"The success she's been able to garner on the national stage has been a great support for wanting to help her stay away."

Meanwhile, Catherine says despite the sacrifice of being away from friends and family, she's happy to make the sacrifice for a sport she loves.

 "Of course I miss my family and miss Newfoundland," she said. "But I'm having a great time."

With files from Amy Stoodley