BIBLE HILL - They're the first thing Cali Bruce sees every morning and the last thing she sees at night.
The national, Eastern Canadian and provincial all-star qualifying swim times all stare back at the 12-year-old Truro resident from the ceiling above the bed in her room, a constant reminder of how much she has to push each day to meet her goals.
Bruce and two of her Dartmouth Manta Rays teammates - Kelsey Taylor, a 16-year-old Salmon River resident and 14-year-old Sarah Smith of Onslow Mountain - recently checked the first stepping-stone off their list by qualifying for the Nova Scotia all-star squad.
They'll be representing the province Jan. 19 and 20 at a Tri-meet and camp in Halifax with squads from P.E.I. and New Brunswick.
"I'm like in shock," Smith, who has been working to make the team's standard for the past two years, said with a smile.
It's a satisfying payoff for the three swimmers, who have been extra dedicated to their sport this season as they strive to achieve their goals. They've been training every day for two hours per session, five times a week at Scotia Pool in Bible Hill and twice with the rest of their team in Dartmouth. They even rise for two early-morning sessions each week bringing their total to 16 hours.
The three are joined by seven other Colchester residents on the Dartmouth team.
"It's a lot of extra hours because we're driving a lot," Bruce said of both traveling to practice in Dartmouth and competitions across the Maritimes. "It's extra work, but it's worth it."
The swimmers made the team by earning enough FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) points, awarded at meets throughout the season based on their times.
Taylor has qualified for the all-star team twice before, in 2009 and last year, while Kali and Smith are making their first splash with the squad.
Each of the Scotia Pool sessions, run by Cali's father Colin, start with 30 minutes of dryland training with the rest of the time spent in the pool on a focused training regimen designed to develop the swimmers in all strokes. The training has been influenced by a change in national qualifying standards, which require a swimmer to make standards in at least three disciplines to be eligible for the event.
"They are fully dedicated," Colin said as the swimmers glided through the water a few feet away. "They've been putting in a lot of work and they've had to make a lot of sacrifices to do what they're doing and make that commitment to competing and it's made a big difference for them."
The all-star event divides swimmers into age categories, 12 and under, 13 to 14 and 15 and over.
Colin said it's no small feat to crack the roster as only 32 athletes - 16 females and 16 males - are chosen.
"It's a pretty impressive accomplishment," he said. "It really shows them how hard they've worked this season."
They constantly push each other in training and even hold competitions amongst themselves to make sure they're getting all they can out of each session.
Their attitude and dedication is rubbing off on their teammates, Colin said, as the other swimmers aim to keep up with their achievements.
"Kelsey, Sarah and Kali have been great leaders," Colin said. "They have really helped the group say, ‘we can' and every single swimmer has been pushing every day for that goal."