Travel is a key word for Gabe Mastromatteo. This week, the Swim Shark member is attending a Pro-Series meet in Des Moines, Iowa. That's after spending the better part of February in Florida.

"That was pretty fun," he said, after training with Team Canada and Team Ontario.

Last year's travel took him to Fiji, and this year's itinerary could include visits to San Diego and Hungary. It's all part of his long-term goal is to reach the 2020 Olympics.

"It's a fun time, if you put the work in, that's for sure. It's not fun, if you don't work. Then you don't swim fast," he adds, noting he's in the pool seven to nine times a week.

At 17, Mastrommatteo has been swimming at a high level for several years. For him, the demands of the sport have become routine and just part of life.

Now in Grade 11, he says his keeping up with his homework, even while he's on the road, although he admits some of his teachers might disagree.

Nevertheless, the results in the pool have certainly been impressive. His Swim Canada bio already includes:

  • a gold medal at the FINA World Junior Championships
  • four medals at the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg, including three gold and a Canada Games record
  • bronze at the 2017 Canadian Swimming Trials

Along the way, Mastrommatteo has also received the Victor Davis Award for the last three years from Swimming Canada, in order to help him continue with his development. hyslop sharksSwim Sharks coach Janet Hyslop (Submitted)

This year, he's also the recipient of the Tihanyi bursary, along with his coach and mother Janet Hyslop. The bursary was set up by Alex Baumann's coach, in an effort to help swimmers and their coaches overcome difficult situations.

Along with the struggles of trying tostay in Kenora, while competing at a national and international level,the family is also trying to manage all the costs and logistics of associated with all the travel.

There are times Hyslop says it's been tough to find the right balance.

"The most difficult part is working through that day-to-day environment," says Hyslop. "There are times when I need him to step up. I need him to be better than he is being in the pool. It's being able to do that -- push hard, be relentless, get what I need from him -- then leave the pool, hop in the car and go home. I have to leave that (coaching part) at the pool, and he has to leave it at the pool," she says

At times, she admits the 'stinging criticism,' is part of the training, along with the words of encouragement.

"I don't sugarcoat it. It is what it is," she says. "That's not how you motivate kids -- by making them feel good all the time -- you have to make them see the reality."

In a Swimming Canada article, Mastrommatteo says he understands his mother is doing her job as a coach by getting him to do what's needed for him to succeed, adding his mom always has his back, especially at competitions. 

In February, Hyslop was also invited to attend a special workshop with the top women coaches in the country. In the long run, she's hoping to see more top roles for women in the sport, rather than secondary roles or assistant coaching positions.

Along with the 54 members of the Swim Sharks, the family dynamic for the Mastromatteos is made more complicated by two siblings, who are also promising young swimmers.

Emilia is just a couple of years younger, and she made her first appearance at the Canadian Junior Championships last year. However, she's currently recovering from shoulder surgery, and she isn't expected back in the pool until fall.

Younger brother Tazio is now 11. His athletics also include hockey and soccer, but he's already travelling to attend meets with other club swimmers.

Swim Canada trials for Gabe Mastromatteo are set for early April in Toronto.

For more information:

Tihanyi bursary

Gabe Mastromatteo

More Sports News

Special Olympics celebrates 50 years

Today marked the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics, and athletes across the country, and in Kenora are celebrating. Kenora Special Olympics has been a part of the community for decades, according…

Puck stops here

The Thunder Bay Kings defeated them last night in Thunder Bay to win the branch championships. As the HNO representatives, the Kings advance to the western regionals of the Telus Cup. Thunder Bay is…

Kenora AA Peewee Thistles are the champions!

The Kenora AA Peewee Thistles have done it! They're the Eastman Minor Hockey League Peewee Champions. They won took the series last night after a 3-1 win over Lac du Bonnet in game two. The team…

Thistles in tough against Kings

It's been a tough weekend for fans of AAA hockey. The Midget AAA Thistles are down two games to none, as they head to Thunder Bay next weekend to complete their best-of-five branch playdowns. After…

Thistles, Kings need OT

Fans of the Kenora AAA Midget Thistles are hoping for more great action today, when they play Game 2 of their branch playdowns today. After a full 60 minutes of lead changes with few penalties, the…

'We have a legitimate shot,' coach

Rooke Pitura of Kenora is coaching the Dryden Peewee AAA Paper Kings at the branch playdowns in Kenora this weekend, and he offers a preview. "It's a bit of a challenge for us to come together, have…

All Star Cheerleaders place first, third internationally

The Kenora All Star Cheerleaders are back from the UCA All Star International Cheerleading Championships at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, as they took on top international cheer teams. The…

Brunton looks ahead to branch playdowns

Forward Sam Brunton and the Kenora AAA Midget Thistles are gearing up for the Hockey Northwestern Ontario AAA Branch Championships this weekend. They’ll be taking on the Thunder Bay Kings in a…

Mastromatteo in Des Moines

Travel is a key word for Gabe Mastromatteo. This week, the Swim Shark member is attending a Pro-Series meet in Des Moines, Iowa. That's after spending the better part of February in Florida. "That…

STA student wins bronze at national powerlifting competition

St Thomas Aquinas High School is celebrating Grade 12 student Elliott Hayton. He won bronze at the Canadian Powerlifting Union Nationals. During the event each athlete must complete a deadlift, squat… is Kenora's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.