COUVA, Trinidad and Tobago – Swimmers aged 14 to 17 hailing from Penticton, B.C., to Fredericton are happy to trade winter weather for warm temperatures, but it’s been all business in the water at Swimming Canada’s male development camp in Trinidad.
“So far the camp’s been pretty good, we’ve had some harder sets which is what we came here for. And the weather’s been pretty good so we can’t complain,” said Jacob Gallant, a 15-year-old medley and middle-distance swimmer from Fredericton Aquanauts Swim Team.
Joining the 16 athletes are four selected coaches, working under the leadership of National Development Coach Ken McKinnon as Team Leader and Senior Coach, Olympic Program, Martyn Wilby as head coach.
Olympic champion Mark Tewksbury joined the group for the first three days to lead workshops on high performance and accountability.
“I just tried to give them really practical things they can apply here and when they get back home,” Tewksbury said. “It creates another level of team-building and camaraderie-building for this group. I imagine when they show up at the next competition they will have a different level of connection.”
McKinnon and Wilby have divided the group into four teams of four, in an ongoing competition that includes how they perform in training, as well as on Tewksbury’s exercises.
“It’s just general discipline and behaviour, also with relay swimming strategically designed to focus on the practices to make it meaningful, fun and very competitive,” McKinnon said. “They’re good athletes and they’re competitive in nature, so they went pretty hard at each other. It’s been really positive from that end.”
Gallant said the competition among each other at the Trinidad National Aquatic Centre has been a good experience.
“There’s kind of a joking (rivalry). They’ll give you a bit of grief if you come last, but I don’t think any of it is meant to be hurtful or anything. It’s been a good atmosphere,” he said.
One of Tewksbury’s activities asked each athlete to build accountability into their day by writing a “Today I will” goal then evaluating it later (“Today I did.”)
“If you didn’t do it, you don’t get to cross it off. It’s to teach them about holding each other accountable. Two kids forgot their sheets in their room, so those teams got points deducted, and they respond to that kind of stuff,” Tewksbury said.
Other team-building activities during the week included watching the Super Bowl together, and a break from training to hit the beach Wednesday afternoon.
“Camps and opportunities such as this are really important for learning and development of both swimmers and coaches,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson. “Initiatives like this are possible due to support from Own The Podium, Sport Canada and also through NextGen funding that is critical in our ability to continue to develop the next generation of athletes such as the swimmers on this camp.”
Tewksbury, meanwhile, took a red-eye flight back to Canada on his birthday Wednesday.
“I wish I had learned some of the stuff I’ve been teaching these guys earlier in my career,” he said. “Who knows, maybe in this group will be the next Olympic champion and I’ll have had some tiny bit of input and that would be a lovely moment if that came true.”
|TEAM LEADER||Ken McKinnon|
|TEAM MANAGER||Jocelyn Jay|
|HEAD COACH||Martyn Wilby|
|COACH 1||Don Burton (OSA)|
|COACH 2||Mark Bottrill|
|COACH 3||Marta Belsh|
|COACH 4||Wendy Johnson|
|Alex Milanovich||ESWIM||Kevin Thorburn|
|Brodie Young||HYACK||Mark Bottrill|
|Cole Pratt||CASC||Dave Johnson|
|Graysen Bernard||TSC||Don Burton|
|Finlay Knox||FSSC||Todd Melton|
|Gabe Mastromatteo||KSS||Janet Hyslop / Don Burton|
|Jacob Gallant||FAST||Marta Belsh|
|Joshua Liendo||NYAC||Murray Drudge|
|Justin Konik||ESWIM||Kevin Thorburn|
|Loic St Martin||CAMO||Claude St Jean|
|Owen Huang||MARKHAM||Robert Novak|
|Ray Yang||ESWIM||Kevin Thorburn|
|Richie Stokes||ESWIM||Kevin Thorburn|
|Russell Burton||GUELPH||Don Burton|
|Sebastien Somerset||CASC||Dave Johnson|
|Tyler Wall||KISU||Tina Hoeben|