(HM) It's the racing part that I think is addicting.
The feeling when you finish and touch and you look up at the clock and you're like "Wow! I just got a personal best! Wow! I got a qualifying time!" I think that's the best feeling in the world. I'm Naval Cadet Hanna Mountfort. I'm currently attending school at RMC Kingston. I'm in my second year.
The Canadian trials, it's the highest meet for all Canadians to compete at, and lots of Olympians. It was crazy. I was sitting in the ready room for my race. And just Penny Oleksiak is there, like, Taylor Ruck, Kylie Masse. There're all just there, and there're just zoning in, getting ready for the race. So, it's kinda surreal.
It's pretty crazy just to be sitting there, and be like "Wow! I'm at the stage of my career in swimming that I get to be near to these people and I get to race some of them. And it's pretty exciting." I grew up in Hubley, which is about 30 minutes from Halifax. I started swimming when I was five. So, I've been swimming my whole life. And I started doing competitive swimming. I grew up kind of in a rural area and right on a lake. So, I've just been in the water my whole life. Competitive swimming kinda clicked when I was around eleven. And then, I kinda reached the stage around eleven and twelve when you do start competitive swimming, or you just kinda... just normal swimming.
I swam my first meet and made my first national qualifying time. I was like "Oh wow! I kinda like this stuff!" I had great coaches at the time. They were super supportive. I didn't really know anything about the competitive world. But I just kept making times. And they were super supportive and they just kept pushing me to do better. And I think that's kind when it clicked. And not only that, I think having a great team is what helped it click too. I didn't think about RMC, honestly, until my brother went. And just hearing about it, and he was on the rowing team. And hearing about all the fun things they can do and opportunities. The education you get is, like, compared to nothing else. The programs, the teamwork and the sports. And for RMC, it's not just normal university where you kinda come and just do your thing. Like, you're constantly living with people. And I kinda really wanted that, that team aspect of being together. And I was just really excited to join. And I've loved it ever since. Being a female cadet, sometimes, it feels like you're a little bit of a minority. Because there is definitely a smaller percentage of females, especially in science and engineering. But it's growing and it's getting better. And I think, coming from a sport's aspect, and swimming particularly, it was never, like, girls and boys.
When I was training, it was just my friends. When I came here, that's the mindset I had. And I think you have to go in with the mindset of not really picking yourself out. Sure, sometimes, you kinda feel: "Oh! There're not as many!" But I think it's getting better and, as long as you have good friends and everyone supportive, there's no problem. Sports has just been part of my life, my whole life. And I think having sports, and every single person's life having physical activity, is like a crucial pillar. That's one of our pillars for RMC, and in the military as well. Being fit is not only important for your physical health, but your mental health too. It's been a great leadership opportunity as well, made me a better person in general. And not only that, it's made me a better athlete. I'm able to do well in anything I try.