VANCOUVER – The University of British Columbia Athletics and Recreation department is performing a pandemic pivot for some of Swimming Canada’s Olympic hopefuls, adjusting its annual maintenance shutdown to accommodate the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials, presented by Bell.
Swimming Canada had previously scheduled its Trials for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games for April in Toronto. But due to ongoing pandemic-related challenges, the trials have been pushed back to May 24-28.
This led to a unique request to longtime partner UBC, whose Aquatic Centre is home to Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre – Vancouver.
“We have been in a very privileged position right now – being able to carry on what we do, having access to water in a controlled safety-first environment adhering to all provincial health regulations that are in place,” said HPC-Van Head Coach Brad Dingey. “We fully recognize how difficult and challenging this has been for everyone. As coaches and athletes, we are buoyed by the support and confidence everyone has been providing us on a daily basis.”
The centre is home to such swimmers as Olympic medallists Brent Hayden and Emily Overholt, and Commonwealth Games medallist Markus Thormeyer.
“We really appreciate the support of everyone at the UBC Aquatic Centre and having the maintenance moved so that we can continue to train and prepare for Olympic Trials in May,” Overholt said.
“We completely value the long established partnership between UBC and Swimming Canada with our High Performance Centre, we are very grateful that through this partnership the annual pool maintenance dates could be adjusted so that our athletes, many of whom are UBC students, can continue to train uninterrupted towards the rescheduled Trials,” added High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson. “On our national team we talk of adaptability and this is something that we have seen here firsthand and it is appreciated.”
The Point Grey facility was initially set to be closed for its annual preventative maintenance for the month of April, following the previously planned Trials timeline. Once the trials were pushed back to late May, this annual month-long shutdown at the UBC Aquatic Centre would have directly conflicted with some of the most critical training periods leading up to the Games.
As a result, Swimming Canada officially requested the UBC Aquatic Centre postpone the routine maintenance shutdown.
Following a feasibility assessment which took into account additional operational challenges provided by the pandemic, the UBC Aquatic Centre has been able to grant this request with the routine shutdown period now scheduled for May 21-June 20.
“UBC Athletics and the UBC Aquatic Centre have consistently worked with Swimming Canada to try and meet the training needs of the athletes based at HPC-Vancouver,” said Iain McDonald, Swimming Canada’s Associate High Performance Director, Olympic Program. “Given all of the extra demands that everyone is facing as we all navigate the challenges associated with the pandemic, we are especially appreciative of all the extra time and effort on the part of UBC Aquatic Centre Senior Manager, Programs & Operations, Stephane Delisle and his team to make this change to assist our swimmers.”
This altered schedule will not only benefit Canadian Olympic hopefuls, but will also provide students, faculty, staff, residents, and the general public with ongoing access to the UBC Aquatic Centre.
“With the many varsity championships being cancelled this year due to COVID-19, it is great to see that our department was able to find a way to support this request and provide the athletes, coaches, support staff, and the entire community something to rally behind. We are proud to support Canada’s best swimmers right here at UBC whenever we can,” said UBC Managing Director of Athletics and Recreation, Kavie Toor.