Swimming Canada has been working since the Tokyo Olympic Games on a strategy that is geared towards both the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Games.
This strategy will continue to build on the strengths of the Olympic program that were in place for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games cycles.
The relay initiatives that started in 2013 with ‘take off camps’ for 13–18-year-olds, and have been conducted over the last eight years, will continue as part of the National Development Team Program headed by National Development Coach Ken McKinnon. This initiative will link into programming for senior team relays that Senior Coach Martyn Wilby has been conducting with promising international results.
NextGen stroke development camps will continue across all stroke events and more specific targeted initiatives will be developed. A component of this initiative is to have identified swimmers and their coaches visit Swimming Canada High Performance Centres to access additional coaching support and sport science expertise. Some swimmers and their coaches have already been identified and they have been contacted. The stroke camps led by McKinnon, Wilby and National Distance/Open Water Coach Mark Perry will also offer coach education opportunities in addition to swimmer development.
Swimming Canada has two Olympic Program High Performance Centres, one based at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and one at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
“Swimming Canada is fully committed to the Olympic Program High Performance Centres at UBC and TPASC and they will be an integral part of our national programming to the Paris and Los Angeles Games in 2024 and 2028,” said High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson.
On an interim basis, proven international Olympic coaches Martyn Wilby (HPC-Vancouver) and Ryan Mallette (HPC-Ontario) are leading the centres, along with recently recruited HPC-Vancouver assistant coach Mandy Bell. The coaches and the centres are supported by world leading experts including Tom Vandenbogaerde (Performance Scientist Coach) and Graham Olsen (Performance Analyst) in Vancouver and Johnny Fuller (Manager, Physical Performance) and Elton Fernandes (Sport Scientist) in Ontario.
“These teams along with other support staff will continue to provide those swimmers based in the centres with an exceptional world-class daily training environment,” Atkinson said. “The High Performance Centres are well positioned and will continue to develop athletes and coaches. Swimming Canada will soon be advertising for two performance coaches to join our program to lead the centres and the athletes towards their maximum potential. The environment at the centres is world-class and we will continue to develop our culture of performance along with an athlete-first approach built around each athlete’s goals.”
Future plans include developing a program for swimmers and their coaches to visit the High Performance Centres for a number of sessions each week to target specific events. Swimming Canada has shared the Swimming Canada Strategy to 2024 and 2028 with its provincial sections, and will work with the provincial technical leads. Using this strategic framework, Swimming Canada will work with the provinces and the HPCs to develop specific programs to build a strong and sustainable national program. Swimmers and coaches wanting to know more about the centres and opportunities should contact Iain McDonald at [email protected]
Club coach involvement in all Swimming Canada activities is also critically important. Swimming Canada continues to invest in coaches through the 14 coaches on the Advanced Coaches and 50 on the Select Coaches groups (26 males and 24 females for 2021-2022) who will take the learnings back to their home programs across the country. Since 2014 there have been 172 coaches involved in various development opportunities and teams that have been offered by Swimming Canada.
“This has been an outstanding period of coach development for the nation (more than at any other period) and it will be continuing towards 2028,” Atkinson said. “We are focused on the future, building on our strengths and looking to target other opportunities. The program that is in place is possible due to the continued support from Sport Canada, Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee.”