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Sport

Swimmers Go for Olympic Dreams at Canadian 2012 Trials

My friend and former roommate Richard Hortness is heading off to Montreal for the Olympic trials. He’s no longer living in Lethbridge but we wish him well. The Lethbridge club team has quite a few former swimmers also going to the meet, some of whom I’ve helped coach and/or shared the pool with. Here’s the news release from lethbridgeswimming.com:

Every four years, the Olympic Games stop the world. For a moment in time, the population across the globe, share in athletic glories, defeats, and Olympic stories. For 12 Lethbridge Swimmers, the dream of becoming an Olympian will be put to test in reality show called the Canadian Olympic 2012 Swimming Trials. The Trials will take place next week in Montreal, at the historic 1976 Montreal Olympic Pool. The pool is situated in Olympic Stadium, originally built for the 1976 Olympics and formerly home of the Montreal Expos.

For the Lethbridge contingent, the road to the Olympic Games began a decade ago. From initially jumping in the pool to learn four basic strokes fly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle, each athlete has worked to improve strength, endurance, speed, has refined stroke technique, has learned how to apply sport psychology, learned how to balance social and academics with athletics, and has paced up and down the pool several million kms. These athletes have raced on the national and international levels and have participated in training camps around the world, just to gain experience for this moment.

Through the process of diligent training, day to day, month to month, year to year these athletes have put themselves into contention. Competing at the Olympic Trials is comparable to making the NHL playoffs.

“The time is now,” says Head Coach Brad Mori. We have 12 qualified to compete at the Trials; Ryan Thornley, Kyle Troskot, Leah Troskot, Jeffrey Nicol, Rachel Nicol, Jessica Kelly, Kristy Gabruck, Mat Loyola, Matthew Mastromatteo, Tiha Konyves, David Errington, and Zack McAllister.

This is the largest contingent to ever represent Lethbridge at the Canadian Olympic Trials. “I think we are doing a good job of keeping kids engaged in the sport long enough for them to mature physically and mentally, they are able to realize their potential, and go about their day to day business more professionally. Swimmers are now hitting their prime in their mid to late twenties. Generally, the days of sending teenagers, with hormones and inconsistencies, to the Olympics Games is done. We are sending intelligent men and women, with a full set of tools.”

For Kyle Troskot, Zack McAllister, Jeffrey Nicol, and Rachel Nicol they will go into the meet with having experienced the Canadian Olympic Trials in 2008. “This is a different meet with different pressures than most competitions. For many swimmers their dream and career goal is on the line.” “It was the most exciting competition of my career” says Mori, who was a 1996 Olympic Trials Finalist and also competed at the 2000 Trials. “Having been in this moment 4 years ago, with the press and the hype, these kids will have the advantage of experience.”

Our top contenders will be Kyle Troskot, Rachel Nicol, and Zack McAllister. Both Kyle and Rachel are away at university this year, Kyle is at Texas A&M (2nd year) and Rachel as at Southern Methodist University (1st year). Zack is in his first year at University of Lethbridge and training with the Pronghorns. Both Kyle and Rachel will be fresh of performances at the NCAA championship. The fastest meet in the world should also provide added experience for the Olympic Trials next week. McAllister has had a great season, having competed at the Pan American Games in Mexico this past fall.

Pronghorns, Ryan Thornley, Jeffrey Nicol, and Jessica Kelly will be looking to crack the top 8 “A final”. “If you have a lane, you have a chance. Anything can happen. Every 4 years you see kids come out of the wood works, you see veterans come out of retirement for one last chance to make the team.”

To make the Canadian Team, swimmers must win or place second in the event and swim a time faster than the FINA “A” two per country time standard. Rachel Nicol has posted this standard previously, Kyle is itching closer. Zack will be competing for a spot on the Paralympic Team. “Unfortunately for Zack, we are still waiting on a classification appeal, and might not know if he has qualified until after the ruling has been made.”

The meet will run from March 27th to April 1st. Rogers Sportsnet will be covering the action live nightly from 7-8:00 pm Eastern time.

Update: Richard made the team! He’ll be competing for Canada in the 4×100 relay. As for the Lethbridge swimmers, there was a total of 39 personal best times with four swimmers making it into the finals—three placed in top eight.

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friends Sport

Olympic Swim

As I’ve mentioned (many times to anyone that cares to listen) my former house-mate is Canada’s fastest swimmer in the 50m freestyle. This morning at around 4:30am local time he will be swimming in Beijing!

I saw Richard’s photo on Yahoo News (same photo here) and caught a couple clips of him swimming and on deck on the CBC a couple nights ago. (I also saw his roommate Jonas swimming tonight to—he competed in the 100m breast).

Here’s what Richard has to say on his blog the night before the big event.

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Sport

U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials

Michael PhelpsI love the beautiful (and very large) images found at Boston.com’s The Big Picture. Especially fun to see is the series from the recent US Olympic Trials where superman Michael Phelps broke another world record.

The Big Picture: Records Fall at U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.

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Sport

Kid’s Hope Ethiopia

I’m away today taking part swimming in a team triathlon held in Okotoks (is it safe to call Okotoks a suburb of Calgary yet?) for the annual Foothills Charity Triathlon for Kid’s Hope Ethiopia.

I’m happy enough to just have one section of the triathlon, because I want to go all out, but I have to keep in mind that I’ve spent exactly no time at all training for this event.

I’m just shooting to break seven and a half minutes which looks to be a fairly competitive time (and a winning time depending on which year’s results you are looking at).

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friends Sport

Molly Sullivan Reports on NCAA Swimming

Molly Sullivan reports on the decision elite Canadian athletes swimming in the States have to make every four years when it comes time for Olympic trials. My friend and Olympian for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Richard Hortness, is featured in this piece that aired March 26.


[Molly Sullivan Reports on NCAA Swimming – YouTube]

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friends Sport

Richard Hortness on KNPR

My friend and former roommate, Richard Hortness, was on an NPR affiliate the other day talking about swimming and about what it’s like knowing you get to go to the 2008 Olympics. Here’s the mp3.

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friends Sport

Richard Hortness is Going to the Olympics!

Richard HortnessI found out yesterday that my former teammate (and old roommate), Richard Hortness, is going to China for the 2008 Olympics. He placed third in prelims with a personal best time of 49.42 in the 100 metre freestyle and his fifth place finish in finals makes him one of the five swimmers who will make up the Canadian Mens 4 x 100 freestyle relay team.

Technically, Richard is the alternate, but will likely swim preliminary heats at Beijing.

Today he will be trying to win or come second in the 50 free. If he comes second and makes the FINA A time standard he will also compete in that event in Beijing.

Congratulations Richard, and good luck today!

Medicine Hat News Article Scan

Update: Richard won the 50 Free this afternoon too! Way to go Richard; good luck in Beijing.

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friends Sport

Canadian Olympic Trials

Vicki ChuggMy friends Vicki Chugg, and Richard Hortness are in Montreal this week swimming in the Canadian Olympic Trials. You can watch CBC’s coverage of the meet today and tomorrow (check your local listings). Good luck Vicki and Richard!

Pictured above: Vicki Chugg at a Canada West Swim Meet

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Sport

Michael Phelps’ World Record Smashing Swim

During my prime of swimming for the University of Lethbridge, my fastest time for the 50 meter freestyle (short course) was 24.59. It’s fun and amazing to watch the world’s best swimmers going four times that distance (and long course too) at the same pace. Even if you’re not a swimming fan, one can’t help but get excited as Michael Phelps shatters a world record.

Phelps broke five world records, including the one above, during the World Swimming Championships last week in Australia. (They ended April 1).

The Washington Post has an interesting article stating that 60% of new swim records have been set in the last two years, while the records set in track-and-field on the other hand, have been much more steady.

The Post’s explanation of how athletes can be improving in leaps and bounds in one sport but not in another boil down to, more funding, better coaching, and an older average age of high caliber swimmers. They say the typical body shape of swimmers has also been changing as of late.

As an aside, a former roommate and teammate of mine competed at Nationals (the Canadian ones) during the same time and won both the 50 and 100 meter freestyle events a seriously awesome accomplishment (even though, it seems to me, he downplays it). Congratulations Richard.

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Sport

Alumni Meet

I’ve got a University of Lethbridge Alumni swim meet tomorrow morning. Should be loads of fun—I can hardly wait, but I’m not too thrilled about being on deck at 7:20am—At least the events are only 25’s and 50’s.