Puslinch’s Tristan Jankovics has his sights firmly set on competing in this year’s Paris Summer Olympics.
“That's the big goal this year,” he said in a virtual interview from the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio, where he’s a second-year member of the
Buckeyes swim team.
“I've just got to keep being consistent in training. I think if I can have a really good Big Tens and a really good NCAAs, it'll set me up really well momentum-wise. I've just got to keep the momentum rolling. I've got to keep pushing in practice and keep trusting myself along the way.”
Jankovics, who was born in Guelph, grew up in Puslinch near Morriston.
After swimming locally first with the Guelph Marlin Aquatic Club and now with Royal City Aquatics, formerly the Wellington County Waves, he had a few things to get used to during his first year at Ohio State. At the top of the list were slight changes in distances as he’d been used to competing in races and pools measured in metres in Canada, but the races and pools are measured in yards in the U.S.
“We race short-course yards here and it's just a little bit shorter than our typical short-course metres, long-course metres,” the Centennial CVI graduate said. “My first year here last year it was a big adjustment just because I have to get a lot of details underwater – details on the wall (to know when to start his turn) so I can get faster. That first season here was a lot of adapting to that. I've gotten a bit more used to it now because I've been through it quite a bit, but it was definitely a big learning curve.”
That actually helped him improve his turns.
“I wasn't really that good at my walls and I wasn't really that good underwater when I came here,” he said. “I kind of had to adapt to that because it's a lot more competitive and you're way faster underwater. It was just something I had to pick up on and it definitely helped my long-course swimming as well.”
It helped that much that he posted three wins and a second-place finish at the Speedo Canadian Swimming Championships in the Pan-Am Pool in Markham last August. He won the 400 metre individual medley by 9.39 seconds with a time of 4:17.40, the 200m IM by 1.82 seconds at 2:00.63 and the 200m freestyle by 0.63 of a second at 1:49.64.
He was also second in the 200m backstroke, less than half a second behind the winner with a clocking of 1:59.11.
“I was happy with it,” he said. “I was pleased with it. I feel like it was just a stepping stone on where I want to get to, but it was definitely nice seeing some big times for myself. It felt good after all the work I put in.”
This season Jankovics feels his times are getting better as he gets ready for three big meets – the Big Ten conference championships late this month, the NCAA
championships in March and then the Canadian Olympic Trials in Montreal that start three days after his 20th birthday.
“It's going well. We put in a lot of work short course and long course,” he said. “I made big improvement in short-course yards. I've definitely developed a lot in the short pool.
"In long course, we haven;t really rested for a meet this season, but I went out in a best time in the 200m IM early in the season in November. I almost got my best time in the 400m IM a few weeks after that. No rest or anything, it was kind of a meet practice so I wasn't quite prepared for those, but I still did really well. It's a good spot to be in.”
One benefit of living on the Ohio State campus is the commute to the pool is shorter so that’s had the added bonus of more sleeping time.
“I feel like ... I'm definitely getting way more sleep just because I have to commute way less,” he said. “The pool's right here, a 10-minute walk. I can get there
really quickly. I'm sleeping a lot more which has definitely helped me a lot.”
It used to take him 20 to 30 minutes to get into Guelph for the 5:30 a.m. practices, a time at which the Buckeyes also hold their first pool sessions each day.
Another benefit of swimming with a university team is the sheer depth on the squad. That means he’s swimming with several teammates who are at a similar level as him.
“I swim a little bit of everything so every day there's someone I can train with depending on what we're training that day.”
Although he was quite a bit younger than both of them and never swam in the same group as them, he was with the Marlins when both Andrew Ford (2012 London) and Evan van Moerkerke (2016 Rio de Janeiro) competed in the Summer Olympics.
“Growing up in that environment where these two guys made it really big out of Guelph kind of motivated me,” Jankovics said. “It kind of ensured me that I could do something like that.”
While competing in the Olympics this year is the main goal for Jankovics, he doesn’t want that quest to become all-consuming.
“I don't want to stress too hard about making the team. I just want that to happen,” he said. “I want to have it all flow nicely. I don't want to not sleep the night before because I'm so worried. I just want to go in there, do my thing and hopefully make the team.”
While competing in the 2028 Summer Olympics could also be a goal, Jankovics doesn’t want to look that far ahead.
“I definitely want to make it this year because it's my childhood dream,” he said. “I think all the pieces are coming together. And if I do make it, I want to do really well. I don't know what I'll be doing in four years. I'd rather make it now and kind of check that box off than have to worry about it for another four years.”