Canada’s largest city finally has a world-class pool that will be home to everything from international championships to development programs for the next generation of aquatic athletes.
Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre - Ontario has relocated from the old University of Toronto pool to the new Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Based on the U of T Scarborough campus, the state-of-the-art facility features two 50-metre pools, a 25-m diving tank, and countless amenities out of the pool. Built for next summer’s Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, the pool is already having an impact that will endure well into the future.
“This is a world-class daily training environment for our athletes and will give our High Performance Centre a real boost,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson.
World-renowned coach Ben Titley heads up the centre, which is home to Toronto-area products such as 2011 world championship medallist and 2012 Olympian Martha McCabe and past national team members Zack Chetrat and Michelle Williams. Sandrine Mainville of Montreal recently moved to Toronto to join them in their pursuit of representing Canada at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Mainville and Williams were double relay medallists at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Among the services available are extensive dryland training options, from weights to yoga classes, and on-site integrated support team in partnership with the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario. The building will also be home to a bar and restaurants, while athletes will have access to the CSIO Sport Performance Kitchen.
“It’s the little things,” McCabe said. “You want to fuel your body right after, the kitchen’s available right outside the pool deck. It’s the little benefits you need to get an extra edge on competitors. We’re going to have all our support staff right on site with us, whenever you need physio or to see a doctor or anything like that. It’s definitely the best I’ve ever been at.”
“It’s cool to have everything under one roof like that,” said Chetrat, a Toronto native who grew up in Oakville. “To go from the pool right to the gym to the nutritionist to the physio, it’s all there, all centralized and all as good as it gets anywhere in the world, which is incredibly exciting as an athlete.”
Mainville, a law student, said the option to be right on the U of T Scarborough campus and continue her studies was a deal breaker for her.
“I thought Ben was very dynamic and he sees the future for swimming. Canadian female sprinters are very important for him, I’m a sprinter and I know he sees good things in the future for us and really wants to build something big,” Mainville said.
Titley has coached at three Olympic Games, including as women’s head coach for British Swimming in 2008. He has coached multiple world champions and world record holders including Liam Tancock and James Gibson. His accomplishments include coaching three consecutive British record holders in the women’s 100-metre freestyle (Melanie Marshall, Caitlin McClatchey and Francesca Halsall), all of which went on to win medals in world level competition.
Since coming to Canada in 2012, he has already impacted swimmers such as Chantal Van Landeghem. The Winnipeg native trains at the centre while not at the University of Georgia and this summer set a Canadian record (24.69) in the 50-m free with her bronze-medal performance at Pan Pacific Championships. Titley sees the ingredients for more success from Canadian swimmers training at his centre’s new home.
“It’s about creating an environment where success can flourish,” Titley said. “It’s a high-performance environment where athletes have the space and time to do a comprehensive pre-pool routine, there are rooms for school work between sessions, designated kitchens, an indoor running track, designated gym space for athletes. I don’t think I’ve been in a better gym and it’s only for performance athletes.”
“What you can get here is better than you can get anywhere else, and it will be focused on international success,” Titley said.
Meanwhile, Swim Ontario has launched its Ontario Swimming Academy alongside the national centre. More than 135 targeted athletes and their coaches have been invited to participate in the Academy programs.
Provincial Mentor Coach Dean Boles will lead the program, which includes three-day camps geared towards Olympic podium hopefuls for 2020 and beyond.
“This is an opportunity for our Ontario athletes to shine and demonstrate their abilities on an international scale. As a former Olympic coach with a long history of elite athlete development, Dean is the ideal person to build a solid foundation and long term vision for the Academy,” said John Vadeika, executive director of Swim Ontario.
“It’s exciting for swimming in Ontario and swimming in Canada in general,” Chetrat added.
Story from the Swimming Canada Website | Swimming.ca