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After years of close calls, Island swimmer on verge of becoming Olympian at 32

Jeremy Bagshaw should get the good news Sunday
Victoria's Jeremy Bagshaw is closing in on a trip to the Olympics. TIMES COLONIST

It is a rarity when an athlete does something that makes everybody feel good, including competitors. When the Canadian swim team for the 2024 Paris Olympics and Paralympics is officially finalized today at the conclusion of the national trials, there should be a name included that will put a smile on most people’s faces.

After so many close calls, sentimental favourite Jeremy Bagshaw of Victoria should finally make his Olympic debut this summer at age 32. The veteran from Island Swimming Club is a multiple-time national 400-metre men’s freestyle champion and has represented Canada four times in the FINA world championships, twice in the Commonwealth Games and won two medals in the Pan Am Games. But Bagshaw has yet to swim in the Olympics after so many frustrations in the national trials, often missing by just a few hundredths of a second.

Bagshaw’s fourth-place finish in the 200-metre freestyle at these trials looks good enough to land him on the Canadian men’s 4x200 relay team for the Paris Olympics. The difference between fourth and fifth places was just four hundredths of a second but this time the close call was in Bagshaw’s favour.

“I’m over the moon. It’s been a long time coming,” Bagshaw said in a statement.

“I’ve always had a dream of going to the Olympics. I’ve had some rough patches in my swimming career but still believed I could do it. To finally be able to put it together and get my hand on the wall, even if it was by a couple of hundredths, I’ve been on the opposite side of that before. To finally be on the good side of it makes me very happy and I’m very grateful.”

The graduate of St. Michaels University School, and a Pac-12 medallist for the NCAA champion Cal-Berkeley Bears, is as accomplished outside the pool.

Bagshaw has just completed medical school at the University of Limerick in Ireland and is fluent in English, French and Mandarin.

The only thing missing is the label of Olympian, something Bagshaw will likely add today.

“I just kept persevering and didn’t give up on my dream,” he said.

“Now I’ve just got to wait until [today] and see how the nomination plays out and see what happens.”

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