Swimming Canada’s National Team Development Program has several initiatives coming up in an effort to jump-start the next generation of swimmers.
This summer’s Mare Nostrum tour in Europe will once again be a targeted event. Swimming Canada typically sends a group every year, and uses the high-end competition as a development opportunity. This year the focus will be on male swimmers.
When senior high performance staff were discussing ways to best develop potential talent for future teams, the Mare Nostrum tour was targeted as a specifically identified male development initiative.
“It’s a pretty tough tour – six competition days in nine days, and we’ll maintain a pretty good volume of training through the competition. It’s a work bout with intensity around racing,” said National Development Coach Ken McKinnon.
The Mare Nostrum tour runs from June 10 to 18 in Monaco, Barcelona and Canet, France. Derrick Schoof of the University of British Columbia Dolphins/Thunderbirds is the coach. Rob Hill (Chena Swim Club), Montana Champagne (GO Kingfish), Alexandre Perreault (Ottawa Swim Club) and Josiah Binnema (Edmonton Keyano) have been selected to participate.
McKinnon pointed to the success of female swimmers such as Taylor Ruck and Kierra Smith, who participated in past Mare Nostrum tours. Last year Ruck used the tour as a springboard to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where she helped Canada win two relay medals. Smith, meanwhile, went on to the Olympic final in the 200-m breaststroke after her Mare Nostrum experience.
“We specifically brought Taylor to get her on the blocks in the 100- and 200-m events early in the cycle. She had been sick at Trials and her program was fairly general in her training so we wanted to get her ready for those specific events because that’s all she was going to do in the Olympics,” McKinnon explained.
The upcoming Mel Zajac Jr. International will be the fulcrum for two other development initiatives ahead of the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships Aug. 23-28 in Indianapolis. With the Zajac meet set for May 26-28 in Vancouver, a group will come in a week early for a relay camp running May 19-29 at the new University of British Columbia pool .
“This relay camp is specific to the 100-m and 200-m freestyle, with seasonal training and tactics around the racing, as well as some video analysis and video work on relay takeovers,” McKinnon said. “We’re trying to get swimmers in the 200-metre events and below and give them a really intense training and competition opportunity.”
From May 25 to June 5, the Development Teams Race Tour will take place.
“We’ve got a group of development swimmers going to the Zajac meet, so we’ll do some training at UBC before the Santa Clara (Pro Swim Series the following weekend in California). The basic idea is to take care of the rest of the World Junior Championship team members that are the stroke swimmers. The relay camp will take care of the freestyle group, and we’ve targeted these stroke swimmers going into Indianapolis this summer, as well as a couple others we’ve got our eye on.”
The two initiatives feature the bulk of Canada’s top junior-aged swimmers, and with the slight overlap there will be an opportunity for combined sessions with Mental Performance Consultant Sharleen Hoar.