Savannah King didn't start out with Olympic dreams. Quite simply, she was just another kid who loved being in the pool.
As it turned out, she had a natural talent for swimming. That gift -- and countless hours of practicing and competing -- eventually landed her in Olympic waters at the tender age of 16.
King has now represented Canada at two Olympics and was in Prince George on the weekend as a guest instructor at a Swim B.C. regional training camp. Her students were in the 12-and-under category and she was impressed with the talent level and dedication she saw.
"The kids are all great," said King, who started her own career in Vernon at the age of seven and still holds close to 30 records with the Kokanee swim club. "I think they're really keen to learn and get some information from the camp. It's really exciting for the future of Swim B.C. and the rest of Canada to have such a good crop of kids coming up and starting to develop earlier. Future athletes and high performance will definitely come from these programs.
"A lot of the kids are really excited that I'm here and it's awesome to be able to pass on some knowledge and hopefully inspire some of them."
Jenna Korolek, an 11-year-old member of the Prince George Barracudas, was certainly inspired by King. The youngster wants to follow in King's wake by swimming for Canada at the Olympics.
"One day I want to be just like her," said Korolek, a fourth-year swimmer. "It's just like, 'Wow!'"
King's first Olympic experience was in Beijing in 2008.
"At trials, I was 15," said King, who now swims and attends school at the University of British Columbia. "I was on the list of potential Olympic team members and it was weird to think about because I had only made the national team at 14. It was kind of crazy to think that at 15 years old I had the potential to make the Olympic team so I went into trials hopeful, but not overly hopeful, because if I'm 15 and don't make it there's a lot of time in the swimming world to make the next one. I think that helped me the first time, that I was more relaxed and just took it as it came at me."
In Beijing, King posted a top-20 finish in the 400-metre freestyle.
At the London Games this past summer, King placed 18th in the 400m freestyle, with a time of four minutes 10.93 seconds. She swam in the morning -- which didn't fit with her normal routine -- and wasn't overly pleased with her result. She rebounded nicely in the 800m free, where she finished 15th in a personal-best clocking of 8:29.72.
"I basically had to scratch the first race completely [from my mind] and move on to the second one," said King, now 20. "I think psychologically that's what helped me. I did a good job getting myself back mentally and got a personal-best in the 800. I still think I have a lot of potential to improve -- I don't think that time was what I was training for, but it was still a best time and I can never complain about a personal-best."
Because she's still so young, King could swim in at least two more Olympics. Next would be Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo, Instanbul or Madrid.
"It's exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time," King said. "Just thinking about the next one is making me nervous already. It's four years away but between Beijing and London, it just flew by, and I can't believe London 2012 is already over."
King's current focus is on the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships, Feb. 21-23 in Calgary. There, she'll swim for the UBC Thunderbirds.
"I love UBC," she said with a grin. "I'm biased, but I think it's the best program in Canada, for Canadian university athletes especially. We have the national training centre there and that works hand-in-hand with the UBC program."