Hamestead calms choppy waters
By Dan Yurman
The Western women's swim team is making quite a ripple on the OUA pond thanks in large part to co-captain and breast-stroke specialist Joanne Hamstead.
Not only do her aquatic skills make her one of the best on the team, but her superlative leadership skills and motivational abilities with the mostly rookie group have the entire team swimming incredibly boasting a 3-1 divisional record and putting them at the top of the women's standings in the OUA along with McMaster and Toronto.
Hamstead, a kinesiology major and 22-year-old native of Napean, ON., began her career as a synchronized swimmer in high school, competing relatively few times as a racer. In Grade 12, she made the change and has been successful ever since.
It is as co-captain and team leader, however, that she has been most valuable. She sees her co-captain role as a motivational, communicative and administrative position, pumping up the team, keeping discussion lines open between the coaches and the players and organizing training camps and excursions such as a team trip to Florida.
Coach Glen Belfry referred to her leadership skills as "fantastic" and said that her habits of sticking up for the team, believing in what the Mustangs stand for and helping younger players understand and believe the team vision, makes her an invaluable asset to the squad. As for her swimming, Belfry said she succeeds because of "all the little things she does to make all of her strokes effective especially the breast-stroke, which is by far her best stroke."
The team's other co-captain, Amy Bartoch, shared Belfry's sentiments, adding that Hamstead is a great leader and role model for the rookies and is a very positive person who is capable of "looking on the bright side of any situation."
She further added that Hamstead's experience has helped her to become a better swimmer and a better leader, capable of taking the reigns and continuing the winning tradition once Hamstead graduates this year.
Hamstead sees the Western swimming program as extremely strong and the team as a talented and spirited bunch.
"All the women are driven and goal oriented, which makes me happy I chose to come to Western and be a part of the swimming program," she said.
Judging by the team's phenomenal performance this year, no one at Western Athletics is going to second guess her.