A group of 22 Canadian swimmers will compete in distance races and participate in a Pan-Canadian open water camp this weekend in Barbados.
The eighth annual Barbados Open Water Festival will be hosted in Carlisle Bay. The festival will feature competition in 1.5, 3.3, 5 and 10-kilometre distances. Past festivals have attracted swimmers from 35 countries.
Several different provincial sections have held distance and open water activities, camps or clinics during recent years. The Barbados trip – supported by Manitoba, Quebec, Alberta and Ontario – is the first Pan-Canadian event. Each of those provinces has sent top distance swimmers to train and learn about open water strategies and techniques.
“This activity is the next logical step for Canada, having a more collaborative approach that benefits everyone and allows greater information and experience sharing as well as providing a great learning environment for both coaches and swimmers,” said Swimming Canada Distance/Open Water Coach Mark Perry.
Perry will run the camp and work with five coaches, who will plan a training year, write weekly templates, track the progression of athletes and learn more about open water race techniques and tactics.
“The swimmers attending will be part of a national team environment and will experience quality distance-based training together with safe and appropriate open water training, educational classroom sessions in a low-key, safe environment,” Perry said.
Perry is the head coach while Rebecca Cheverton is team manager, Karen Wilson is the assistant team manager and Allan Wrigley will provide race analysis.
Other coaches on staff are: Alex Dawson, Brian Lindsay, Russ Franklin, Martin Gingras and Alexandre Gendron.
Eric Brown, a 17-year-old member of the Pointe-Claire Swim Club, is looking forward to the 10-kilometre race.
“It should be a lot of fun,” Brown said. “It’s a big group and we should have a lot of fun and I want to learn more about open water swims and I hope to attend more of these training camps in the future.”
Kenna Smallegange, a 16-year-old member of the Burlington Aquatic Devilrays who won gold at this summer’s UANA junior open water championships in Wisconsin, said the Barbados festival will be another opportunity to develop her skills.
“It’s a chance for us to learn from a lot of different coaches and different athletes,” Smallegange said. “We all benefit from the experience.”
Meanwhile, Stephanie Horner has represented Canada at the Olympic Games three times, but she still pushes herself to improve every time she enters the water.
“I always like to learn at camps like these, whether it be from those who are younger or older than me. It keeps me accountable,” said Horner, a 30-year-old native of Bathurst, N.B., who trains at the High Performance Centre – Victoria.
“I feed off people’s energy – it lifts me up,” she continued. “It’s also great to see these kinds of camps are being introduced at an early stage of the swimming careers for the young swimmers.”
Swimmers on the Canadian team are Madison Archer (Nepean Kanata Barracudas), Joshua Baldwin (Edmonton Keyano Swim Club), Eric Brown (Pointe-Claire Swim Club), Maéva Cassivi-Vermette (ELITE), Liam Clawson-Honeyman (Natation Gatineau), Juliette Davidson (Neptune Natation), Rosalie Davidson (Neptune Natation), Mia Desjarlais (Neptune Natation), Eric Dupre (MANTA Swim Club), Drew Edwards (Edmonton Keyano Swim Club), Ian Friesen (Club Warriors), Jordan Greber (Grande-Prairie Piranhas), Stephanie Horner (High Performance Centre – Victoria), Anja Krueger (MANTA Swim Club), Guillaume Lord (Mustang Club Natation), Antoine Marchand (CAMO Natation), Quinn Matteis (Chatham Y Pool Sharks), Catherine Minic (Grande-Prairier Piranhas), Jean-Felix Pelletier (Club de Natation de St-Hyacinthe), Xavier Pimentel (Natation Gatineau), David Quirie (Nepean Kanata Barracudas) and Kenna Smallegange (Burlington Aquatic Devilrays).