Joe Byram has already showed he can compete with the best in the west, and now he has taken his act national.
A Vernon Kokanee Swim Club grad who collected nine gold medals at the Western Canada Games two years ago, Byram pocketed five medals at the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke Que. Included in his stellar performance was a Games record in the 200-metre backstroke, which he completed in two minutes, 2.02 seconds.
Byram, who is entering his third year with the University of Alberta Golden Bears in Edmonton, also clocked gold in the 4×50 medley relay, and silver in the 50 back (26.87), 100 back (56.10) and 4x100m medley relay.
“It was a great experience,” said Byram, who went straight to the Games after competing at senior summer nationals, also in Quebec.
“That was the first time I’ve been away from the home pool for an extended period of time. That’s what my life is going to be like from now on.”
Byram, 19, hopes to parlay his Games success into national team berths for both the Commonwealth Games (July 23-Aug. 3) in Glasgow, and the Pan Pacific Championships (Aug. 21-25), in Gold Coast, Australia.
However, his main goal is the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but only the top Canadian for each distance is selected.
One thing in Byram’s favour is that backstroke incumbents – Tobias Oriwol and Charles Francis – appear to be winding down their careers.
“It’s pretty open for all of us down below,” said Byram, who reached the A final in the 50, 100 and 200 backstroke at spring nationals. “In my events, there’s lots of young guys.”