Swimmers mix things up for Spring Invitational
by Randy Pascal
On the local competitive swim calendar, two weekends are set aside for relatively large meets late in the year, as the SLSC (Sudbury Laurentian Swim
Club) Spring Long Course Invitational and the Jeno Tihanyi NEOR/Huronia Long-Course Championships take place in May and June respectively.
And while the numbers were down, somewhat, for the event staged at Laurentian University this past weekend, the local contingent were still in fine form,
with many Sudbury swimmers coming off some very impressive performances in the weeks and months leading into the final stretch of the season.
Thirteen year old Finn Loewen of the Nickel City Aquatics was actually targeting the time requirements of the Tihanyi meet as he prepared
for some of his swim finals Saturday at the Olympic Gold Pool.
Though he would come up a little short in the 200m backstroke, he broke through in the 200m freestyle, an encouraging reward for his months of hard
work. “I’ve had a pretty good year,” noted Loewen, shortly after completing his warm-ups.
“I’ve greatly improved my flip turns this year. I need to always make sure to keep kicking harder to get faster, so that I can have a faster flip turn.”
While the bulk of the field at this meet were a familiar bunch, assembling primarily clubs from across northeastern Ontario, along with a large group of
swimmers from the North York Aquatic Club, Loewen noted that his most interesting competition might come a lot closer to home.
“With swimmers from other clubs, you want to beat them, because they’re different clubs,” he said. “But it’s fun to go against your own team. It’s even
more fun to beat swimmers that are your friends.”
For SLSC veteran Everett Smith, his primary racing targets will extend beyond the Tihanyi Regional Championships, having registered the
qualifying times that will allow him to attend Senior Nationals for the first time later this summer in Montreal.
It was a process that evolved through the provincial championships in Brantford in March, through to the Eastern Canadian Open in Etobicoke
roughly six weeks later. “In Brantford, the pool is actually different than the pool at Easterns,” explained Smith. “There’s no wedge in the blocks, which
is kind of critical for sprint races.”
“I had some pretty good races in Brantford, but I knew that the wedge makes up for so much time, that it would make a huge difference at Easterns.”
Focusing heavily on continuing to develop his power while remaining technically strong, especially with his dives and turns, Smith turned his attention on
his next big meet.
“Easterns was fantastic,” he said. “I knew that it was going to be a great meet. My breathing is so much better. At the start of the year, I was taking
four or five breaths in the 50m free, and now I’ve gotten it down to one. It makes such a big difference.”
Natalie Lefebvre (SLSC) was equally as single-minded in her goal this spring, also looking to conquer a new frontier. “I was trying to make the
Olympic Trials cut, so I had trained my butt off, working as hard as I could to get that time,” she recalled. “When I jumped in, I felt ready. My
confidence has been building over the course of the year.”
The end result for the 18 year old grade 12 student at Collège Notre-Dame who has committed to coach Phil Parker and the Laurentian Aqua Vees
in 2017-2018 was a 20 second plus personal best time in the 1500m, her flagship race.
“I looked way better in the water – high elbows, long strokes, better flip turns – everything you would want to work on,” she said. All of which is
music to the ears of SLSC head coach Dean Henze, who was looking for something a little different from his crew as he challenged them at the Spring
Invitational this past weekend.
“Because of our level of preparation and where we are in that stretch of preparation, it determines how fast that we are going to go,” stated Henze. “I
go out of my way to try and plan it so we’re the fastest when it’s really important. In meets like this, we’re going to be under a little more stress.
These kids have to learn to race their best under stress, under training fatigue.”
“Everybody can post a PB in the middle of the season, because they make technical improvements or it’s been a while since they have done it,” Henze
continued. “We never rested for team champs, as an example, but the environment created a big “get up and go” atmosphere and the kids stood up.”
Additionally, Henze was planning to enter a number of his swimmers in events in which they haven’t necessarily raced in a while. “These swimmers are
still very young in terms of their overall athlete development, so to be diverse in their stream of events is crucial,” he said.
“Just because Everett is a decent 50m guy now, that doesn’t mean that’s what he will grow up to be. He could get to university and actually be a 100m
butterflyer, for all I know.” In the end, Henze sees far more value in covering the spectrum of swim strokes, versus specialization too soon.
“For training purposes, it’s just really boring doing the backstroke all of the time,” he noted. “And I think for muscle development and total
co-ordination, the more you can mix things up, the better.”
Age Group High Point Winners
Girls – 10 & under – Julia Rivet (North Bay Y Titans)
Boys – 10 & under – Ben Schell (Nickel City Aquatics)
Girls – 11 & 12 – Allison Nordquist (SLSC)
Boys – 11 & 12 – James Bertrim (SLSC)
Girls – 13 & 14 – Bella Mastroianni (SLSC)
Boys – 13 & 14 – Trael Daly Stevens (CFB North Bay Thunderbirds)
Girls – 15 and over - Megan Tom (SLSC)
Boys – 15 and over – Thomas Boyd (SLSC)
Girls Eliminator – Natalie Lefebvre (1st); Megan Tom (2nd)
Boys Eliminator – Desmond Wood-Anderson (SLSC – 1st); Thomas Boyd (2nd)