Throughout the month of November, Swimming Canada ran a series of six stroke and distance-specific virtual national event camps. The camps formed part of the High Performance Strategy for the 2024 and 2028 Olympic cycles.
A total of 125 swimmers and 60 personal coaches from across the country participated in this year’s virtual camps from Nov. 12 through to Nov. 20. Six head coaches and 14 assistant coaches were appointed to run the sessions.
Female coach development was a main focus of the series with nine appointed female coaches leading the virtual calls.
Swimming Canada National Development Coach Ken McKinnon and Swimming Canada Distance and Open Water Coach Mark Perry worked closely with the appointed coaches on the content and overall camp concepts to be presented throughout the series.
“These National Event Camps are a continuation of the successful series of virtual activities that were started during the COVID pandemic,” McKinnon said. “Dividing the camps into specific strokes gave the selected swimmers and their coaches the opportunity to meet their peers online and hear practical technical information specific to their best events.”
In addition to the stroke-specific call curriculums, general weekly training guidelines and key training sets were submitted by swimmers and their personal coaches to be analysed during the sessions. Canadian international medallist Kylie Masse, Javier Acevedo, Tessa Cieplucha, Kelsey Wog, Brittany MacLean and Jeremy Bagshaw all contributed in various capacities to the various camps.
“Kelsey Wog and her coach Vlastimil Cerny were the highlight of our first virtual breaststroke camp. They gave everyone detailed insight into Kelsey’s recent decision to narrow her kick down and how difficult this was to commit to and accomplish. The video feedback Vlastic provided really clarified why they took such a challenging decision,” McKinnon said. “National Team Manager Jan Hanan played film director, shooting a number of video clips of Kylie Masse, Tessa Cieplucha and Javier Acevedo offering tips on underwater dolphin kicking in backstroke starts and turns while they were at the World Cup.”
High Performance Centre – Vancouver Assistant Coach Mandy Bell led the virtual distance event camps on Nov. 12 and Nov. 19 with the help of assistant coaches Savannah King and Andrew Lennstrom.
The distance camps covered topics such as the physiology of distance training, nutrition and recovery.
In the second week of Bell’s camps, British Olympic and two-time world championships medallist Cassie Patten was invited to discuss her experience as both a pool and open water swimmer, as well as to provide advice to the athletes.
Bell broke down what the session with Patten looked like.
“We asked Cassie questions about what her training program and environment was like, what racing pool events back-to-back with open water events was like and how she managed school with a heavy training load,” Bell said. “The information that she provided was useful for the athletes to think about how they manage things and how they might reframe their thinking in a positive way when reflecting on what they have in front of them currently.”
The delivery of Swimming Canada’s virtual camps started through the pandemic with the purpose of keeping swimmers and coaches connected and to provide national motivation to a large group of athletes.
“Having input from Olympic medalists, Olympians, World Championship medalists and Canadian national senior team members was really inspirational for those that took part and I’m positive that every participant took away some great learnings to help them on their own pathway to the top.
With pools operating again, High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson believes that the virtual event camps continue to foster strong communication, development and motivation for both swimmers and coaches.
“Having 125 swimmers and 60 personal coaches involved is a great development opportunity,” Atkinson said. “These camps continue to build on the amazing opportunities offered by the Swimming Canada program over the last decade. These camps provide current best practice knowledge to all involved. We are returning with in-person camps and teams, however, this is another fantastic way to keep learning.”