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Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2018
Swimming season nears the end
by Randy Pascal

For the majority of swimmers in attendance over the weekend, the Jeno Tihanyi Regional Long-Course Championships at Laurentian University mark the end of the 2015-2016 competitive season. True, a certain percentage will move on to attend provincials later this month, with a much smaller number advancing to Age Group Nationals, and other odds and ends meets.

But for most, this meet signals the end of another chapter in their swimming career. For 17 year old Lo-Ellen Park senior Chris Eastick, the 2016 event will, quite likely, be the last time he will swim the local pool as a member of the Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club in competition.

Not that he is about to venture too far away from the venue which has become his home away from home. Earlier this year, Eastick committed to coach Phil Parker and the Laurentian Voyageurs swim program, adding a next step to the journey at a time when many swimmers are ready to move on, tackling completely different adventures in life.

“I figured that at this point in my career, after all of the work I’ve done, I’m just starting to realize my potential,” said Eastick. “Everything I’ve done is kind of the base for the really high performance stuff to come in university.”

In fact, the soon to be Kinesiology major understands that part of the resurgence he hopes to achieve, over the course of the next four years, comes part and parcel of some tweaking when it comes to his daily workout regimen in the pool.

“I expect to do more specific training towards the events I will be swimming, as opposed to training all the strokes and all sorts of distances,” said Eastick. “I will be focused more towards mid distance freestyle and backstroke.”

And though many a Sudbury and area teenager longs to leave the area at the first available opportunity, the local recruit is more than happy to take advantage of home cooking and the like. “I figure if I’m going to continue swimming, having to go away for school would have added a lot more stress. Living at home will make it a little easier just to focus on my training and schooling.”

Like Eastick, Joshua Clapham of the Nickel City Aquatics envisions a swimming career that will extend beyond his high school days at St Benedict Catholic Secondary School, though part of that is due to the fact that the 16 year old grade 11 student is still only competing in his fourth year of club swim meets.

“Some of these guys have been swimming for ten years or more,” said Clapham. “I haven’t really been swimming all that long, so I really don’t know how fast I can end up going. And I love the sport.”

While there is still plenty of technical improvement to be had for the NCA swimmer, Clapham also noted an epiphany, of sorts, this year, in the way that he approaches each event, from start to finish. “I’ve learned a lot about how to race so much more, actually being able to race,” he said.

“You feel a lot better at the end, because instead of going out really fast and dying at the end, you finish strong.” Speaking of strong finishes, 14 year old Thomas Boyd of the SLSC is among those who will attend Age Group Nationals, coming off a breakthrough meet in 2015 which saw the local youngster amass no less than eight medals in Quebec City.

That said, Boyd is the first to admit that a repeat performance will be difficult. “My freestyle events, I will still do really well in, but watching some of the other kids swim backstroke or the I.M. (individual medley), I will have more competition there,” suggested the 14 year old talent. “That’s where I will really have to work hard.”

“My times are still getting better, but not like last season – but enough to keep improving,” Boyd continued. “I think my improvement is more technical, and a bit of extra strength in the longer races. My technique is fairly good, but I still think I can improve it a lot.”

Pointers from the pool: Chris Eastick is not the only local swimmer making the jump to the OUA ranks next year. Though she might receive far less attention than her national caliber little sister, Emmy-Lou Kucheran will not only be testing herself within the demanding mathematics program at the University of Waterloo, but will also be hooking up with the Warriors varsity swim team when she begins her university studies in the fall.

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