Michael Qing is in a class of his own in the pool
"It felt amazing to break eight world records. It was great to represent my country and province"
Using a butterfly stroke perfected over years of practice, Michael Qing powers through the water and leaves a trail of fellow competitors in his wake. Qing touches the wall after finishing his last length, surfaces from the water and looks around. At least five seconds later, the second-place swimmer finishes.
Yes, the video footage doesn't lie: Qing is in a class of his own in the pool.
The footage comes from the 7th Down Syndrome International & World Championships late in 2014, where Qing broke eight world records: 50m butterfly, 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 200m backstroke, 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 200m breaststroke and 400m freestyle..
"It felt amazing to break eight world records," said Qing, 22. "It was great to represent my country and province."
Results like these have become routine for Qing during his 10 years as a swimmer, from his first time competing in the Canada Summer Games in 2005 to the present.
All told, Qing boasts 16 long course and 16 short course Down Syndrome International Swimming Organization (DSISO) records. In the two DSISO events he attended in 2008 and 2010, Qing won gold medals in all of his events.
Qing won five gold medals at the Special Olympics Canada Summers Games in 2014, and also represented Canada at the Special Olympics World Games in 2007 and 2011.
Qing also holds paraswimming Canadian records in the S14 classification - both short course and long course in the 100m and 200m butterfly events and the 800m and 1,500m freestyle swims. -
Qing was named the Saskatchewan Sport Awards youth male athlete of the year in 2008 and 2010 and was recognized as Special Olympics Canada's male athlete of the year in 2008 and 2011.
"He's a very good swimmer, very talented," said Abderrahmane Tissira, Qing's coach with the Regina Optimist Dolphins and University of Regina Cougars swim teams. "He trains very hard."
In the future, Qing's goal is qualifying for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. To achieve this goal, he is meeting with his coach to train eight times a week. A good tune-up for Qing will come at the 2015 Special Olympic World Games in the summer.
Regardless of the success he has in the future, Qing is grateful for all that the sport of swimming has given to him. He tried a lot of sports growing up, from soccer to bowling, but finally found one in swimming that was right for him.
"It's a fun sport and a great way to stay in shape," Qing said. "It's taught me how to be myself and work hard to achieve my dreams. You receive a lot of support from your teammates and the province of Saskatchewan."
• Swim Saskatchewan
• Special Olympics Saskatchewan