Family connection brings Olympic swimmer to Sudbury
by Randy Pascal
The Sudbury Synchro Club is not above pulling in a favour in the name of athlete development.
Stéphanie Leclair was a member of the 2012 Canadian Olympic team that competed in London, finishing fourth in the team event. She is also a cousin
to sophomore SSC swimmer Chloe Cholette, and still has several relatives who reside in the Chelmsford area.
This past Saturday, Leclair was on hand at the Dow Swimming Pool in Copper Cliff, working with about twenty or so local athletes in a one-day
workshop. "I told them that the most important thing is to realize that it took me twenty years for four minutes in the water," said the 27 year-old
teacher, alluding to her Olympic Games appearance.
"They need to believe in their dreams, but if they do, go for it. It just might take a lot of time." A very natural athlete in her youth, Leclair
enjoyed the diversity of synchronized swimming, that ability to tap into different elements of her athleticism towards a common goal.
"Synchro is a very complete sport, there is a lot of work to be done outside of the water," she noted. "We do ballet, we do strength training, we do
speed swimming to increase our cardio. It's a bunch of sports, all together, that makes for good synchronized swimmers."
Still, it was in another vein completely where Leclair would find her true value to the Canadian team. "My strength was my mental approach - I was always
very positive, a real team player," she said.
"I was always encouraging, and on any team, it's important to have someone like that." After spending the bulk of her training years in Montreal, Leclair
moved on to Sherbrooke, following her post-secondary pursuits, and now teaches in that area.
She was thrilled to have a chance to come up and share her thoughts with one of the smaller synchro swim clubs in the province, though she believes that
a shifting landscape in the sport has very much helped to level the playing field for groups such as the SSC.
"Ten years ago, twenty years ago, you had to be in a big club to be on the national team," said Leclair. "Now, if you can reach the criteria, no
matter where you are, you can get it."
The Sudbury Synchro Swim Club will be staging their annual "Try Synchro" sessions in September, with free introductory workouts set for the 12th, 21st
and 26th. Each will take place at the Olympic Gold Pool at Laurentian University, from 6:30 until 8:00 p.m. on each of the three evenings.