FOR 12-year-old swimmer and triathlete Aidan Simon, the coronavirus pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for his athletic development.
Since Government’s decision to close all educational institutions, on March 14, to slow the potential growth of covid19, the Holistic Primary School standard five student capitalised on the downtime and amplified his training regime while also balancing online schooling.
Although Simon is scheduled to sit the rescheduled Secondary Entrance Assessment examination on August 20, the youngster has built a unique programme to facilitate his academic prowess and chase his athletic dreams.
The surging swimmer is surrounded and guided by a wealth of sporting experience which has aided his bold climb through the ranks. He currently trains under Edward Tuberoso, former coach of Olympic medallist George Bovell III, and does his gym activity with his father, Dexter Simon, a professional bodybuilder and owner of Asylum Training Centre in Diego Martin.
Simon’s uncle, Derrick, is also TT’s triathlon coach and has been instrumental in helping create one of TT’s prospects. The budding athlete expressed his athletic intentions and admitted the previously implemented stay at home measures were pivotal towards his holistic development.
“Covid19 has given me more time to train and do more schoolwork and place more focus on my athletics. I train in the gym while doing two classes per day with school. After classes, I head back to my training. I eagerly anticipate the lift of restrictions to return to competition to see my progress,” he said.
Simon began playing football at SKHY Football Club. Although successful in this discipline, he decided to try completing a duathlon and then gradually shifted to triathlon events. He increased his running, swimming and cycling exercises but placed greater emphasis on the aquatic sport.
After producing several podium performances at his school’s annual tourney, Simon was urged on by his teachers to enter the National Primary School Swim Meet. In 2018, with no professional training, he made his national debut at the Aquatic Centre in Couva.
He was unable to repeat his inter-class heroics on the national stage but credibly maintained a slim distance behind the top-three swimmers in all events.
Undeterred, the motivated young man then tried to secure a spot on the national aquathlon team. Against the odds of more experienced 14 and 15-year-olds, the then 11-year-old still impressed with a third-place finish in the swim but did not do too well in the run. He was not selected to the TT team.
However, having competed alongside over 30 youths at a national level and still being able to place third in the swim, Simon’s drive to succeed grew.
With continued training from Tuberoso at Flying Fish Swim Club in Federation Park in Maraval, Simon returned to the National Primary Schools’ Swim Meet in 2019. This time, he splashed to gold in the freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.
Two weeks later, he and “One a Week Fire” team-mates Nikolai Ho and Michael Honore opted to participate in the Rainbow Cup relay event. He was also the youngest contender. His able-bodied team went on to win triathlon relay sprint distance as Simon produced a stellar third-place finish in the 750m swim-leg against an experienced group of adults.
“I would like to first make it to the national swimming team and represent TT at the Olympic Games. To achieve this, I would have to train twice a day to be on top of my competition. I’ve been training mostly every day and have also been doing my schoolwork with my teachers and classmates online. It’s not too hard to balance,” he added.
Simon has selected Fatima College as his first-choice school for SEA since they have a well-rounded triathlon team.
Speaking to his father, Dexter has high hopes for his son’s athletic potential and intends to keep pushing him further. Dexter is particularly pleased about his son’s discipline at home and towards his art-form.
“His level of discipline is second to none. I don’t have to wake him up in the morning and make breakfast for him. He does all his household chores and supports me and it’s because of the discipline in sports,” he said.
With the hopeful reopening of sporting facilities tentatively scheduled for July, Simon remains optimistic of a swift return to the competitive arena.
“The first swim meet that emerges post-covid19, I want to be a part of it. I’m ready to resume competition. After SEA, I’m heading back in the pool. There is also a possibility I might still be able to get some sessions in the pool because they’re hoping to lift those restrictions by then. I wait patiently,” he closed.