Penticton swimmer Hannah Rutten is doing more than just winning medals to make sure she represents her hometown on the national stage.
The 14-year-old is a member of the KISU Swim Club and touted as one of the sport’s brightest prospects in B.C.
Rutten’s recent qualification for this summer’s 2023 Juniors Nationals in Toronto only solidified her spot as one of Penticton’s best teenage swimmers.
But to help pay for her trip to Ontario, the Grade 9 student has embarked on a task to collect as many cans and bottles as possible from those interested in supporting her upcoming journey.
It all started with a Facebook post on Feb. 14.
Her mother, Pamela Rutten, had outlined her daughter’s swimming story while sharing the idea of collecting the recyclables to help pay for the pending travel expenses.
The mother-daughter duo would soon read dozens of private messages from local Facebook users, many of whom were ready to donate to the cause immediately.
And so it began.
The two, along with KISU-based swimmers Marlee Winser and Taryn Weatherhead, have made their rounds across the community over the last five days, driving from address to address and sorting through all they have received.
As of Saturday, Feb. 18, Rutten has close to 20 full bags of cans and bottles.
“To be receiving support from all these people within the community is super special,” the swimmer said. “It’s just incredible.”
Swimming since she was in kindergarten, Rutten has competed in sanctioned events across the province since she was eight years old.
Along with qualifying for the Junior Nationals this summer, the Penticton athlete is heading to Victoria and Vancouver, respectively, for this year’s provincial championships.
Ranked by Swim BC as one of the province’s brightest stars, Rutten is invited to the group’s upcoming prospects camp at the University of British Columbia.
“Her success is a pretty direct line from her work ethic,” said KISU head coach Tina Hoeben. “Her ability to push herself through some tough sets is quite amazing and the results come through in the races.”
Although excelling in many facets of the game, Hoeben added that Rutten’s best event is the 200-metre backstroke.
Rutten, who will be joined in the Toronto pool by Winser and Weatherhead, plans on collecting cans and bottles to pay for her journey over the next few months. Other swimmers from the KISU Swim Club can still qualify for the event in the coming weeks.
If the first five days of collecting cans were any indication, the test of gauging community support for Rutten will pass with flying colours.
“Fingers crossed,” she said with a laugh.
“I’m just so grateful for everyone in Penticton for all the support. Everyone I talk to and everyone who helps me is just so incredible and genuine…it’s such a great community to be in.”
The 14-year-old is hoping to swim for a University team once she graduates from high school.
“I just want to improve every day and see what happens,” Rutten said.
Anyone hoping to donate to the cause and help with the swimmer’s travel expenses is asked to contact Pamela Rutten on Facebook.