Keith Beavers

2004 Athens; 2008 Beijing – Keith Beavers

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read about Keith's retirement in the Waterloo Chronicle.

Standing on the block in the 2008 Olympic finals, ready to swim his last competitive race, Keith Beavers knew his job was done.

“Coming in seventh was icing on the cake. Just making the final was the goal,’’ said the 27-year-old. “Everything else was a bonus.’’

Beavers came in seventh in the 200 metre individual medley, ninth in the 400 individual medley and 12th in the 200 backstroke in the semi-finals.

For Beavers, the Beijing experience was different than his first Olympics in Athens. He was more experienced and confident in his ability to compete against swimming greats like Michael Phelps.

“I had been swimming for 20 years for that moment,’’ he said. “I enjoyed it a lot more. It was pretty special.’’

Beavers reached two Canadian records and his personal best at the Summer Games.

Beavers came to ROW in 2001 to the national training centre to swim under coach Bud McAllister.

“I wanted to go the Olympics when I was nine or 10 years old,’’ said the Orangeville native who recalls watching Mark Tewksbury’s gold-medal win at the Barcelona Games.

By 17, Beavers was on the junior national team and he knew with determination and dedication, the elite world Games could be his.

“Swimming and school were my top priorities,’’ said Beavers, who practiced two hours before school and three hours after school four days a week.

At the Olympic trials in 2004 in Etobicoke, Beavers said he was pretty confident considering no one had beaten him in three years. He came in second in 200 metre backstroke and was headed for the Games.

Beavers said his first Olympics was a “mixed-bag” experience. He said he was disappointed in his performance in Athens coming in 12th in 200 metre backstroke.

Beavers said falling down the stairs and hurting his tailbone severely put him “off his game” mentally.

When he returned to Waterloo, Beavers said he felt out of sorts and considered quitting swimming, questioning why he was playing the sport but then he began training under coach Dean Boles.

“He helped me re-ignite my passion for swimming,’’ he said. “We were a 50/50 team. I was the driver and he was there to keep me on the path.’’

Beavers said he was fortunate that at each stage of his swimming career he had the right coach. McAllister was “very strict and very scary. He demanded hard work but I liked to goof around.’’

Under Dean’s hand, Beavers was able to get his torn muscles in his shoulders under control and concentrate on swimming.

“I knew I was really fit,’’ said Beavers, who was training three times a day at the pool, taking time off from school to concentrate on training for the 2008 Games.

Beavers said despite residual injuries in his shoulders today, he loved his swimming career and his Olympic experiences.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,’’ he said.

Beavers is currently the assistant varsity swim coach at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and assistant coach at the Hollyburn Hurricanes swim club in West Vancouver.

Beavers completed his undergraduate degree in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo while at ROW and finished his master’s degree in cardiovascular physiology at UW in June 2009. He plans to return to Ontario for September 2011 and enroll in university for a master’s in physiotherapy.

But he won’t be coming back to Waterloo. His choices for school include the University of Western Ontario, Queen’s or the University of Toronto.

Beavers said his personal injuries in his shoulders and working closely with a physiotherapist lead him to this path.

But before he pursues his career, Beavers and his long-time girlfriend, leave for New Zealand for nine months for a much-needed break in late August.

Beavers said as a coach he often asks his students why are they swimming and what they love about the sport.

“I like the social aspect with my friends in hotel rooms, setting progressive goals and achieving them,’’ said Beavers, reflecting on his love of swimming and his participating in ROW.

“I also love getting in the pool with Michael (Phelps) and making him work,’’ he says with a chuckle. “I get a lot of pride and satisfaction out of swimming.’’

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