FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. –  Cale Murdock is one step closer to competing in the Olympics after qualifying for the Olympic Trials in Toronto, for the second time.

The product of Fort St. John’s Inconnu Swim Club was one week away from competing in last year’s trials before it was cancelled due to the initial COVID-19 lockdown. A year later, he is set to do it all over again after finding new ways to stay fit.

“The summer was tough to even keep up with training, knowing that there was absolutely nothing on the horizon at that point,” says Murdock.

While being out of the pool from April to September, he had to alter his training regimen.

“The only lake nearby is Charlie Lake, and you don’t really want to swim in that. I was just running and in the gym this summer.”

Charlie Lake is prone to blue-green algae blooms in the warmer months, which can cause skin irritation, nausea, and vomiting.

Murdock will head to Toronto in April to compete in the 200-metre freestyle and 400-metre freestyle. While he competes in everything from 50-metre to 1,500-metre races, Murdock does have a favourite distance: “200 free, for sure.”

Murdock’s best time in the 200-metre freestyle is 1:48.04. His best 400-metre time is 3:50.35.

Swimming any distance is a constant battle between going as fast as possible without wasting any movement. Murdock says he must trust his technique.

“It’s all about finding a rhythm that gets you the speed you need, but no too much that it kills you right at the start.”

While underwater, Murdock says he notices the other swimmers in the lanes beside him, but he doesn’t get worried if they are ahead of him.

“It really depends on who is beside you. Sometimes you will be so far ahead of someone that it’s not really viable to watch them. Sometimes you’ll be next to people who are going out way harder than they need to.”

The mental toughness required to stay in your own zone, focusing on your own race, comes from hours upon hours of training.

“When you’re at your lowest, and you’re exhausted halfway through a set, you just keep going through it. Even if it’s not your fastest, you finish anyway. That’s where mental training comes in.”

Murdock swims in Williams Lake with the Bluefins, but he says he feels the support from his old club in Fort St. John.

“It feels pretty good to know that I’ve made a lot of friends that will support me even after all this time.”

More than a year since his last competitive race, Murdock will no doubt be feeling the support as he competes against the 20 best swimmers in Canada.