North Delta Sunfish superstar swims to gold

Ten-year-old Nicholas Furneaux of the North Delta Sunfish Aquatics Club takes to aquatics like a fish to water.

Ten-year-old Nicholas Furneaux of the North Delta Sunfish Aquatic Club poses with his latest gold medal at the club’s annual meet on July 31.

Given his family’s close ties to the North Delta Sunfish Aquatic Club, it’s no wonder Nicholas Furneaux grew up loving the water.

The ten-year-old, who has been swimming since he was four, is currently seeded second in B.C. in the 50-metre backstroke and is one to watch going into next week’s regional swim meet. During last year’s provincial championships, Nicholas (Nico, to his friends) won gold at the 50-metre backstroke.

“From provincials he probably got about seven [individual] medals — three golds, two silvers and two bronze, and for relays [he] got four gold medals,” said Nicholas’ mom, Cristi Furneaux. With all that success, even she has a hard time keeping track of his record. “[The number of medals] in total? Uncountable,” she said with a laugh, adding that Nicholas is very good friends with his competitors from the same division.

Nicholas added to his collection of medals this past weekend, taking first place in the 50-metre backstroke and 100-metre individual medley (with times of 35.99 and 1:17.35, respectively) and third place in the 30-metre butterfly and 50-metre breaststroke (with times of 35.82 and 44.17, respectively).

Nicholas is very self driven and self motivated, said his father, Mark Furneaux. “He likes to challenge himself to catch whoever’s in front of him. It doesn’t matter if it’s a guy two years older or three years older,” Mark said proudly.

“He usually does morning practice and afternoon practice. He does an hour, hour and a half in the morning and usually another hour in the afternoon,” said Mark. “He does water polo twice a week, he does synchro three times a week.”

“He is a focused child. He wants more and he motivates that way,” said Cristi.

Nicholas is not the first of the Furneauxs to take to the water; Mark, a former president of the Sunfish, describes them as a “water family.” Mark got involved with the club in the late nineties through his nieces and nephews, and when his own kids were born, he says, it was only natural for them to swim as well. Nicholas’ younger sister, Cierra, is also a competitive swimmer, while older sister Amanda prefers synchronized swimming. Nicholas’ eldest sister, Samantha, is a water polo player and swim coach.

Head coach Bernard Grempel describes Nicholas as “a blast to be around.”

“He started when he was four years old and he’s one of the top swimmers in his age group in the whole entire province. He’s medaled at provincials two years in a row and works really hard and loves swimming,” said Grempel.

Last weekend’s swim meet at Sungod Recreation Centre was also a success for Nicholas, Grempel added.

“He got first place in backstroke and [third] place in breaststroke, and I think we’ll see a lot more of that at our regionals and provincials.”

And as for Nicolas? He says he enjoys swimming because he likes being with his friends. His career aspirations are much higher than being the fastest in British Columbia though. When asked about his goals, Nicholas answered with a big smile.

“Going to the Olympics!”