WILBRAHAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A local high school swimmer is setting records above and beyond the average teenager. The young man has just qualified for the Olympic Trials, and he's only 16-years-old.
Western Mass News caught up with the star athlete, who shared how neither the pandemic nor any obstacle in his way is stopping him from reaching his goals.
Minnechaug Regional High School student-athlete Josh Parent has qualified for the Olympic Trials in not just one but three events and as a 16-year-old. He now has the opportunity to compete against some of the top swimmers in the world.
"I looked at him and said, 'Is that a goal?' and he looked at me and said, 'That's the dream,'" said Parent's mother, Amy.
Like every other average teenager, Parent goes to high school, does his homework, and loves to spend time doing what he loves to do most, swimming, and doing it with his closest friends.
"My swim friends completely understand. They know the grind that we have to put in all the time. We're still able to laugh [and] have fun with each other during practices," Parent explained.
But what's not so average about Parent, he trains two hours a day, seven days a week, and the 16-year-old officially qualified for the 2021 Olympic Trials in three different events, the 400 individual medley, the 800 freestyle, and 1500 free.
"You hear people screaming behind you, and you're like, 'What's going on?' and everyone's screaming, and I look at the board that has my time up there, and I'm like, 'Oh my god! I made trials,'" Parent said. "I could not stop moving. I was moving around in the pool, like hands in my hair, like 'Oh my god, there's no way this just happened,' and it was a complete and utter shock for a full 15 minutes."
But this achievement didn't come easily. Parent missed the goal times by less than a tenth of a second in November, motivating him to get after it even more.
"I think when I came so close, I think I knew the next time when I was swimming that there was going to be a good chance that I was going to be able to do this," he noted.
The pandemic forced Parent to train eight weeks straight in his backyard pool.
The head coach of western Mass's Bluefish Swim Club, Nick Rice, told Western Mass News he's a competitor and isn't surprised by his accomplishments, even at 16.
"Josh is very goal-oriented in every aspect of his life," Rice explained. "He puts a lot of pressure and challenges to be as good as he can in everything he does. I think that force drives him to where nothing was going to stop him and stand in his way from achieving this."
But what mom said she's most proud of...
"As a person. He's a great kid. He's our oldest child in our family. He's a great big brother, a great friend, [and] a great teammate," she said.
Parent will continue to hit the water and train as he prepares to take on some of the top swimmers in the world at the Olympic Trials in Omaha in June.