Monday, May 26, 2014

Why Are OAK Swimmers So Tough?

The Oakville Aquatic Club is known for the tough and resilient athletes that come from its program. It became evident to me while traveling with the team to Calgary a few years ago (while I was the coach of another team, not OAK). OAK had literally somebody in the final of every age group and each sex of 200FLY, 400IM and distance FR. Not only are these athletes great at those events, they are proud of being better than most at the hard things.

OAK prides itself on a 1500/400IM/200FLY development system. Tonight, to close out the Sun Life Grand Prix in Thunder Bay, ON, 2 OAK swimmers, Connor Wilkins and Mack Hamill, both from Coach Sean Baker's Senior Red group, decided to race their last race, the 1500 as Fly.

Both Wilkins and Hamill are national level athletes (Wilkins was part of an OAK medal sweep in the men's 17-18 200fly at last summer's Canadian Age Group Championships in Montreal with Evan White and Gamal Assaad. Hamill was 6th in the mens 800FR at Trials back in April) and both raced 200Fly less than an hour earlier.

Many athletes are capable of this feat. The video is indicative of the toughness and heart of these 2 OAK swimmers. While most young swimmers are scared of 200FLY and 1500FR, OAK swimmers take on the challenge with gusto. I believe that most senior swimmers could finish a 1500FLY with a "survival" stroke, although to do it at the end of a 3 day meet, after a night of 2 other races (including a sub 2:10 200FLY) is something completely different. The remarkable thing is how good Conner Wilkins & Mack Hamill look the entire way - a testament to the technical teaching at OAK and the toughness of its athletes.