Saturday, December 29, 2012

Canadian Swimming - Looking Forward...

Swimming Canada plans on increasing its medal count in future World Championships and Olympic Games. With the retirement of Brent Hayden and the natural aging of Ryan Cochrane, new talent obviously has to move to the forefront. We need to look at the future of Canadian swimming and to the man who keeps his finger on the pulse of the future; National Junior Coach - Ken McKinnon. Other than obvious youth highlights Noemie Thomas and Kierra Smith, who else can Canada look to for international medal possibilities between now and 2016?

Ken did not have enough time (he was taking a couple of days off before Christmas and then was leaving for Australia for the Youth Olympic Festival) but did issue the following statement to me:

"I would like to answer your question from the following perspective."

National Development Teams Program Goal Statement
“To provide Canada’s identified swimmers and their coaches, the development opportunities to establish the will, attitude, and skills required to race to the podium at the Senior International level."

"The following athletes have been identified through many different National Development Teams Program activities over that past 2 seasons and have shown that they have the talent, character and resilience that support our Goal statement, and thus have the potential to develop into senior International medalists for Canada".

Brittany McLean E Swim
Chantal Vanlandeghem  Manta
Erika Selten-Reich Hodgson  GO
Mariya Chekanovych SFU/SFA
Sydney Pickrem CAT/Florida
Alexandra Aitchison, Phoenix
Lili Margitai, EKSC
Emily Overholt WVOSC
Brooklyn Snodgrass Cascade

Alec Page, Island Swimming
Chad Bobrosky, Cascade
Will Brothers, Island Swimming
Luke Reilly Vancouver Dolphins
James Dergousoff CHENA
Teddy Kalp NYAC
Evan White Oakville Aquatic Club
Ali Abdel-Khalik ESWIM
Jonathon Brown NCSA

*end of statement*

Obviously Brittany MacLean (2011 World Championships & 2012 Olympics), Alec Page (2012 Olympics) & Chantal Vanlangdeghem (2011 & 2012 World Championships) have already contributed to Canadian Senior National Teams. From a Canadian perspective, there are no real surprises to this list. Seltenreich-Hodgson has been steadily improving in both BR and IM and won several medals last spring on the Mare Nostrum tour. Several of these swimmers won medals at Junior Pan Pac this summer, while some are pretty new coming into international competition. 15 year old Teddy Kelp of North York, ON is swimming up a storm and consistently improving while still at a young age. 9 of the above swimmers will compete at Australia's Youth Olympic Festival in January and most are highlighted to make the Junior World Championships (or the World Championship Team) or Canada Games. 

I think it's always interesting to look at how far young talent will go. I think its difficult to gauge what the future will hold for Canadian Swimming. There are even more University aged swimmers that are in the US that are not on this list (Omar Arafa, Jeffery & Matthew Swanston, Matt Kwatyra, Brooklyn Snodgrass, Cynthia Pammett) who have all contributed to National Junior Teams in the past. There are also athletes that are fairly new to International Competition that are too new to evaluate a future on (Kyle Haas, Bryce Kwiecien-Delaney, Daniel Kuiack, Selin Ozturk, Olivia Anderson, etc).

Ken's Statement does 2 things for me:

1.) Remind me that Canada DOES have some very strong and talented athletes in the pipeline.

2.) Remind me that those athletes are not being ignored; Ken has a plan and is trying to nurture this young talent.

At the end of 2012, I'm happy to know that a new generation of fast swimming is coming up (and is being properly prepared) to take over from Hayden & Cochrane.