This year, Javier Acevedo competed for Canada at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, winning the Bronze medal in the Men’s 50m Backstroke, breaking his own Canadian record. Also competing in the relay events at Birmingham, Javier won Bronze in both the Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay alongside Joshua Liendo, Rebecca Smith and Maggie Mac Neil and the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay alongside Joshua Liendo, Ruslan Gaziev and Finlay Knox, and he won a Silver medal after he competed in the heats of the Mixed 4×100 Medley Relay. In June, Javier won Silver at the World Championships in Budapest in the Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay, and having made his Olympic debut for Canada in 2016, he was selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and was part of the first Olympic Mixed Medley Relay event. Having had a successful junior swimming career, Javier won Gold in the Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay and Silver in the 50m Backstroke at the 2015 World Junior Championships. Speaking with us, Javier tells us about his medal-winning races at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year, winning Silver at the World Championships in Budapest in June and competing for Team Canada at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
You represented Canada at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, how did you find your time competing at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre?
The Sandwell Aquatics Centre is an incredible world class facility. The best part of the competition was the incredible crowd in Birmingham. After two years of no crowds at competitions, it was incredible to compete with a crowd as enthusiastic as the one every night in the Sandwell Aquatics Centre.
What was it like winning the Bronze in the Men’s 50m Backstroke and breaking your own Canadian record?
I’ve always wanted to earn a medal individually, so to do that for Canada at the Commonwealth Games was an incredible feeling! When I touched the wall, I celebrated knowing I accomplished something I’ve always wanted to do. This year, I finally broke the short course Canadian record in the 50 back, after tying it with another swimmer, in 2016. So, it was only fitting that I got sole ownership of the long course 50 back after tying it in 2017. It’s always been a goal of mine to get under the 25 second barrier in long course, so that moment felt very special to me.
You won Bronze in the Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay alongside Joshua Liendo, Rebecca Smith and Maggie Mac Neil, how did you prepare for the race and how was it collecting your medal?
Winning a Bronze in that relay is always special. Canada has always achieved great success in that relay, so it was great achieving another medal with this team! When collecting a medal, it’s always so cool to see the Canadian flag rising, knowing you accomplished something for your country. Josh, Rebecca, and Maggie are such incredible teammates and we have known each other for a long time, so our team chemistry is crucial to our success.
Can you tell us about winning Bronze in the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay and what did you enjoy most about competing with your teammates Joshua Liendo, Ruslan Gaziev and Finlay Knox?
The medal in the Men’s 4x100m Free Relay was a highlight for me. Before the competition, the Canadian Men’s team had last medalled in 2015 at the Toronto Pan Am Games. So, when we medalled at the Commonwealth Games, it was an important step in the goals that we have for ourselves heading into 2024. The best part about racing with Josh, Ruslan, and Finlay is that we were laughing and joking around before the race, so that was pretty enjoyable.
How was it racing in the heats of the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay, which saw the team come away with the Silver medal in the final?
Racing the heats of the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay was a lot of fun. As a team, we knew that we were most likely going to make the final, so we focused on small racing gaps that we wanted to work on within each of our legs. I was really proud of Patrick (Hussey), Sophie (Angus), and Rebecca (Smith) in that race because it does take a team effort in a competition like this, to rest the swimmers for the finals session, so they can do their best.
What was it like staying in the Birmingham athletes village and attending the opening/closing ceremonies?
The Birmingham athletes village was a wonderful surprise. The dorm rooms at the University of Birmingham are excellent and very spacious. The village had all the amenities that we as athletes could have asked for. Unfortunately, the Canadian swimmers never attend opening ceremonies, as the next day the competition begins, so we want to rest before the start. I also wasn’t there for the closing ceremonies as I had left with many of my Canadian teammates back to Canada, after the conclusion of the competition.
In June, you competed at the World Championships in Budapest, winning the Silver in the Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay, how was this and what are the World Championships like to compete at?
Again, it was great to win the Silver at that competition. It’s always an honour to stand on the podium with the best swimmers in the world, and to do it with my incredible teammates felt amazing. I was thrilled to compete with Josh (Liendo), Penny (Oleksiak) and Kayla (Sanchez) and earn that Silver, just behind Australia. The World Championships are always special, it’s always nice to see friends from around the world.
Last year, you represented Canada at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, how did you find the experience competing in Tokyo and being part of the first Olympic Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay event?
Competing at an Olympic Games is always special, so being able to be a part of a first ever moment for Canada was a dream come true. The experience was certainly different from 2016 because of the COVID protocols, but it didn’t take away from the Games experience.
You made your Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, do you remember how you felt finding out you’d been selected for your first Olympic Games and what are some of your favourite memories from being on the Canadian team in both 2016 and 2020?
I remember when I made the 2016 Canadian Olympic team like it was yesterday. I was an underdog at the Canadian Olympic trials and when I touched the wall, it was pure bliss. I felt like all the hard work leading up to that moment was worth it. In 2016, one of my favourite memories from those Games was being able to watch the success of my teammate Penny Oleksiak. I’ve known Penny since she was a junior swimmer, so watching her win the 100 Freestyle was a moment I’ll never forget. My favourite memory from the 2020 Games was being a part of the first ever 4×100 Mixed Medley Relay for Team Canada.
Having had a successful junior career, which included winning Gold in the Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay and Silver in the 50m Backstroke at the 2015 World Junior Championships, what do you remember most from your time competing as a junior?
My fondest memory competing as a junior was being able to be a part of a successful group of other Canadian junior swimmers. Many of the swimmers from the Canadian team at 2015 World Junior Championships have had very successful careers, such as Maggie (Mac Neil), Tessa (Cieplucha), Penny (Oleksiak), Taylor (Ruck), and many more. So, to be a part of that success in 2015 and beyond is something that is very special to me.
Can you tell us about some of the other competitions you’ve competed at and stand-out highlights you’ve had over your career so far?
The 2014 Youth Olympic Games was another event where I found some success as a junior swimmer. Canada sent a small group of us to that competition, but we still found a lot of success achieving personal bests and even making it to the final of the 100 Free as a 16 year old. Another stand-out competition that I want to highlight was the 2021 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. At that competition, I swam in every A final, something that I had never done in my collegiate career up to that point. More importantly, at the conclusion of the competition, the University of Georgia finished in the top 4 of the team standings. My school hadn’t finished in the top 4 of the team standings since 1998, so it was quite special to be a part of that group of men.
How did you get into swimming and is it something you always wanted to do at an elite level?
When I was younger, I tried playing many different sports such as swimming, tennis, baseball, and soccer. I fell in love with swimming because of the friends I started to make during practices and felt like I wanted to do a sport where I would grow up along my friends regardless of talent. Once I started becoming a better swimmer than I thought, I stopped playing the other sports in order to focus on becoming an elite level swimmer with Olympic ambitions.
What is a typical training day for you, and do you have a favourite aspect of being a swimmer?
A typical training day starts off with a heavy breakfast that I have been working on with my nutritionist. I am expected to be at the pool at 9am, with an on land activation routine to get my muscles ready to train. Afterwards, I train for about two hours and head back home to nap for about two hours. After my nap, I will usually eat lunch and relax by watching some YouTube or TV. My second training session begins at 3:30pm and begins with an hour-long lift session. Once I finish my lift, I will swim for another two hours. To conclude my day, I will eat dinner and relax before I head to sleep at around 10:30pm.
My favourite part about being a swimmer is all the amazing people I have met throughout my career.
Have you been given any advice throughout your years in swimming so far that has stuck with you and what advice would you give a new swimmer starting out?
My piece of advice that has stuck with me throughout my years in swimming has been that the results are the evidence of my decisions. I know that if I make the right decisions in and outside the pool then I will achieve the results I want. I also know that if I don’t get the results that I want, then I need to make better decisions.
To any new swimmer just starting out, one thing I would say would be to have fun. Swimming is a very intensive sport, so having friends around you and having fun working through the tough workouts is very important.
Do you have any competitions coming up or have any that you are targeting that you can tell us about?
The next competitions that I will be targeting will be the FINA World Cup series and the Short Course World Championships in December. After that, I am still pondering on whether to continue swimming. As of right now, I have my focus on swimming for the next few months.
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