Swimming Canada’s NextGen Institute Program – Victoria is adding another promising swimmer as the program continues to serve as a pipeline providing talent to the national team.
Sprint freestyler Kyla Leibel of Red Deer, Alta., will join the NextGen program in September. She will be making the move from the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club immediately following the Junior Pan Pacific Championships. Leibel was named to that team after her performance at the Canadian Swimming Championships in April, where she took silver medals in the 50-m and 100-m freestyle in times of 25.59 and 55.95.
“There are many talented fast sprint freestylers around the world, especially in Canada, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work and focus to be able to compete with and challenge them. I think that the NextGen program offers me not only the support, but the peer group I need to get there,” says Leibel.
Leibel has made four visits as a guest member of the NextGen training group, a Swimming Canada program in partnership the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, Swim BC and Own the Podium. The group trains at Saanich Commonwealth Place, with targeted access to the world-class High Performance Centre-Victoria integrated support team, which includes specialists in physiotherapy, massage therapy, mental performance, biomechanics, physiology, nutrition, and strength and conditioning. The high performance program’s goal is to ensure a progressive stream of coaches and athletes are being trained to standards required to win Olympic and World Championship medals.
“Every time she’s been in Victoria doing work with us she takes to it really well,” says NGIP-VIC Lead Coach Brad Dingey. “It’s been really easy to try and continue to work with her because her improvement was there, her mindset was there and her work ethic was there. It’s blossomed into a pretty good relationship and we’re definitely looking forward to being able to continue doing that on a full-time basis in the fall.”
Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson pointed out the work Red Deer Catalina Head Coach Scott Wilson has done with Leibel as an age group swimmer.
“Scott has done a great job developing Kyla in her home club,” Atkinson said. “Our clubs and coaches across Canada are critical in continuing this athlete development pipeline and are doing a great job.”
The 16-year-old is also one of eight swimmers selected to represent Canada at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in October. She says she has her sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“It will be a major adjustment for me because I will be away from my parents for the first time in my life, but I’m willing to sacrifice that to try and get to that next level in my career,” Leibel says.
Swimmers such as Jade Hannah and Faith Knelson have already graduated from the NextGen program to the HPC-VIC. In April they represented Canada on their first senior national team at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, joining fellow NextGen grad Sarah Darcel.