COLONIA DE SANT JORDI, Mallorca, Spain – Swimming Canada has sent a predominantly young team to compete at the week-long Best Fest open water swimming festival, which begins Saturday at Colonia Saint Jordi on the idyllic Spanish island of Mallorca.
Canadian head coach Mark Perry said Best Fest offers a “fantastic series of different races where we can really challenge our young swimmers” for the second year in a row.
Perry said the team will train and compete in five different race distances on different courses in a wide variety of conditions.
“We have daily feedback sessions in groups and on an individual basis, showing extensive video analysis from both our drone and kayak-based cameras,” Perry said.
“We’re able to effect massive change and have a unique learning opportunity in a short space of time, which is invaluable when developing athletes.”
Competing for Canada will be: Kenna Smallegange (Burlington Aquatic Devilrays), Kate Sullivan (Mount Pearl Marlins), Payton Rerie (Manta Swim Club), Madison Archer (Nepean Kanata Barracudas), Chantel Jeffrey (Island Swimming Club), Kyla Ross (Island Swimming Club), Hau-Li Fan (University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Swim Club), Ryley McRae (Kamloops Classic Swimming), Calvin Slinn (Winskill Dolphins), Alex Axon (Markham Aquatic Club) and David Quirie (Nepean Kanata Barracudas).
“This,” Perry said, “is predominantly a development team with a few new swimmers.”
The coach said Smallegange, Sullivan, Ross, Axon and Quirie will be using Best Fest as preparation and learning for the UANA junior open water championships later this summer in Wisconsin, noting Smallegange and Axon each competed strongly as last year’s world junior open water championships in Israel.
Perry said Fan and Jeffrey will benefit from Best Fest as preparation for this summer’s world championships in Korea.
“The other guys are new to open water or have very little experience so this is a learning event for them,” he said.
The group is supported by two team managers, assistant coach Steve Price, apprentice coach Rob Novak, physiotherapist Ron Castro, physician Dr. Vanessa Young, physiologist Liz Johnson, and Swimming Canada Integrated Support Team Director Dr. Allan Wrigley will provide race analysis.
“We also have the event to test out new technology and strategies so we have sports science staff here working on that with the swimmers, coaches and support staff.”
Perry pointed out that two participants in last year’s tour – Kate Sanderson and Raben Dommann – this year made the jump to senior teams.
“We selected them on their pool times, took them away to Mallorca to the Best Fest and they raced four races in 10 days. We did race analysis, stroke improvement and tactics,” Perry said. “Kate and Raben obviously consolidated all that experience and made our world championships team for the first time. Taking them away for training and teaching them what to do pays dividends.”