Joint effort successful for Snodgrass

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When backstroke specialist Brooklynn Snodgrass decided to attend Indiana University two years ago the lines of communication remained opened with the Cascade Swim Club in Calgary where she first learned to race.

When backstroke specialist Brooklynn Snodgrass decided to attend Indiana University two years ago the lines of communication remained opened with the Cascade Swim Club in Calgary where she first learned to race.

Ray Looze, Snodgrass’s coach at Indiana, has stayed in touch with Dave Johnson, director of swimming and head coach at the Cascade Club. Working as a team has helped in the development of the 20-year-old from Calgary.

“My college coach calls Dave once a week,” Snodgrass said. “They stay in really strong communication which really helps me down
there.

“I’m really excited to see what I can do with that collaboration.”

So far the joint effort has proven successful.

Earlier this year Snodgrass became the second person in Indiana women’s swimming to claim an NCAA championship when she won the 200-yard backstroke during the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Minneapolis. As a freshman in 2013 she was third in the 100-yard backstroke.

Last month Snodgrass won a bronze medal in the 50-m backstroke at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. She hopes to use that experience as a springboard at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships Thursday through Sunday in Gold Coast, Australia.

There is no 50-m back at the Pan Pacs, but Snodgrass said the podium performance in Glasgow fueled her confidence and desire. She will swim the 100 and 200-m back at Gold Coast.

“That 50, and that medal, really showed me I was able to do that,” Snodgrass said during a training camp in Brisbane. “From that performance (at the Games) I know my 100 can be better. Knowing I have that speed, I know I can pull off a good 200.

“I wasn’t really happy with my 200 at the (Canadian) trials. I’m really excited to swim both those races better and hopefully have a better strategy for the 100.”

Johnson said Snodgrass may be young, but she isn’t intimidated by the likes of American Missy Franklin, the Olympic and world champion, Australia’s Emily Seebohm, Japan’s Sayaka Akase, or even her Canadian teammate Hilary Caldwell, a bronze medallist in the 200-m back at last year’s world championships.

“The biggest thing is she really loves to race and considers the opportunity to get in there and go against the best swimmers something of a challenge,” said Johnson, a former national team coach.

“By accepting it as a challenge she is always able to get a very good result from herself.”

Too often swimmers lose contact with their former coaches when they head to a U.S. school. Johnson said his interaction with Looze at Indiana has been beneficial for everyone.

“I think we have managed to forge a really unique and positive working relationship,” he said. “He’s been in touch with me and I have been in touch with him throughout the season.

“I have coached this kid since she was 10 years old. I have a lot of information and background on what helps her get ready for her performances. He’s tapped into that and asked for support. I am aware they are doing really good work down there. I just wanted to make sure we blend the programs so that we’re working together to achieve the best results possible.”

The flow of information and advice has been a two-way street.

“He’s been very open with me and willing to have a great dialogue about what to do and how to do it,” said Johnson. “It’s worked out really well for Brooklynn.”

In winning the NCAA title Snodgrass held off a late charge from Elizabeth Pelton, the American record holder at that distance.

“It was an experience of a lifetime,” she said. “I was really shocked.”

Snodgrass showed potential at an early age. She set a national short-course record for the 100-m backstroke in the 13-14 age group. She also set 10 Alberta records.

“When she was coming up as an age-grouper she was always just on the wrong side of getting selected to the senior team,” said Johnson. “I think some of those lessons have really served her well.

“She has become very determined in terms of pursuing what she wants. That showed at the Commonwealth Games.”

Attending two international competitions in a span of a month has been a steep learning curve for Snodgrass.

“I’m really trying to take in all the information I can,” she said. “I talked with my coaches and that was really the plan this summer.

“I wanted to swim fast for my country of course, but I really wanted to learn what the top people in the country do at swim meets like this.”

Johnson believes the Pan Pacs are another step on Snodgrass’s road to the Olympics.

“I’m sure the experience of racing against Missy Franklin and the Australian girls are all boxes you need to check if you are going to compete against the best swimmers in the world,” he said.

“We are just trying to give her enough racing against the best people two years out from Rio and use those experiences to motivate her and move her along toward the Olympics in 2016.”

Joining Snodgrass at the Pan Pacs are fellow Cascade Club swimmers Yuri Kisil and Russell Wood. Snodgrass said it’s great to see her club so well represented at the international level.

“It’s always good to put our name out there,” she said.
“We are a developing club and we’re only getting better. There are some really good young kids coming up. I am really excited about what they can do in the future.”

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