Canadian swim phenom set to take on the world

Canadian swimmer Amanda Reason, who recently broke the world record in the 50-metre breaststroke, is now heading to the world championships in Rome where she hopes to showcase her incredible speed.
Amanda Reason broke the world record in the women's 50-metre breaststroke in Montreal. ((Graham Hughes/Canadian Press))

Don't blink or you might miss her.

Amanda Reason, 15, of LaSalle, Ont., left the competition in her wake at the Canadian trials and in so doing, put the swimming world on notice.

Not since sprinter Donovan Bailey has Canada had an athlete with such raw speed.

Reason broke the world record in the women's 50-metre breaststroke on July 8 in Montreal.

She's the first Canadian female to break a world record in a long-course pool since Allison Higson did it in the 200-metre breaststroke in 1988. 

That's a major accomplishment for any swimmer, but at age 15, Reason looks like she has a promising career ahead of her.

"This is just amazing," she said. "I'm speechless, incredible."

Reason, whose personal motto is "live your life", emerged in 2008 as one of Canada's elite breaststrokers. She won the bronze medal in the 50-metre breaststroke at the world junior championships and in January 2009 took silver in the event at the Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Guam.

"Amanda Reason is a rocket," said former Olympian and University of Toronto swim coach Byron MacDonald. "She has natural, blazing speed and that is something that you cannot necessarily teach, it's something you are born with."

Reason now has her sights set on the  world championships in Rome, July 17 to Aug. 2.

Although she's never been to Italy before, she insists she won't be distracted by her new surroundings or intimidated by the experience of her competitors.

"I don't really consider my age when I'm swimming," said Reason. "My goal is to win the 50-metre breaststroke in Rome."

MacDonald says Reason has a right to be confident.

"I saw her at a recent international meet [USA Swimming Grand Prix in North Carolina] and she was not intimidated by the bigger names at the meet. I think she responds well to pressure. She simply loves to race and due to that I think she will do well in Rome," he said.

Growing up in Windsor, Reason always loved to swim but it wasn't until a race in 2007 that she began to recognize her potential.

"I broke the national record in a 50-metre freestyle race for 13 to 14 year olds," she said. "That is when I began to realize what I was capable of doing."

Amanda Reason left the competition in her wake at the Canadian trials in Montreal. ((Graham Hughes/Canadian Press))

Recently, Reason moved away from her family home to train with the powerful Etobicoke Swim Club.

"The move to Etobicoke has shaved seconds off my time," she said. "The training environment is incredible … coach [Kevin] Thorburn has provided me with a specific program that is tailored to my specific goals and it has borne obvious fruit."

Reason and her coach have worked hard throughout the season strategizing a game plan for every race.

"As long as I swim my own race, the way I have trained for, I will be fine," said Reason.

Her parents, Bill and Sandy, understand that need for training, focus, and total dedication. They fully support their daughter's quest to be the best in the world.

"We are so incredibly proud of Amanda and have gone to lengths to help her achieve her goals," said her mother.

Reason insists that without her parents' support and encouragement, none of this would be possible.

"They are my supporting staff," she said.

Reason said fellow teammate Annamay Pierse, 25, world record holder in the 200-metre breaststroke, has also been a "fantastic mentor on deck."

With her strong support network and talent, MacDonald is excited about what Reason can accomplish in the future.

"There is no doubt that Amanda is in the early stages of what should be a very successful international career," he said.