by Nathan White
March 21, 2014, MONTREAL (ISN) – Swimming Canada will implement a new Intensive Training Program unique to Montreal beginning April 1.
The new program will serve as an interim model for high performance athletes in the area as they work towards the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“This Intensive Training Program creates an opportunity to have a high-performance training environment for eligible athletes in and around Montreal,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson.
The program, in partnership with Fédération de Natation du Québec, will have no club affiliation, and will be open to any qualified swimmer. Tom Rushton will serve as head coach of the Intensive Training Program – Montreal, which will include access to integrated support team services.
“FNQ is very happy to work with Swimming Canada to implement this Intensive Training Program in Montreal,” said FNQ CEO Bernard Charron. “The coach of this program will also act as a provincial junior coach. This will be another important resource as we work with Swimming Canada to integrate our efforts to develop Quebec athletes.”
Swimming Canada announced in October that the previous Montreal centre’s structure would be reviewed, and funding suspended as of March 31. The further review included consultation with key Swimming Canada staff, carded athletes and coaches, and partners such as Own the Podium, FNQ and the Institut national du Sport du Québec. The driving force behind all decisions was the desire to create the environment in Quebec that has the best opportunity to produce medal performance results for Canada at the Olympic Games.
“Montreal and the province of Quebec should be a strong centre of development for Canadian swimmers. We are committed to implementing a strategy that puts the province on the podium, and this smaller-scale solution is the first step in the interim,” Atkinson said.
The interim program will undergo further review throughout the year, with Swimming Canada sharing its findings with FNQ and INS.
“INS is happy to collaborate on this initiative with Swimming Canada. The Intensive Training Program will allow us to continue our involvement with swimmers in Quebec,” said Marc Gelinas, president and CEO of INS. “With our mission to provide world-class training environments, we will support our athletes as they prepare for the Rio Games.”
Along with the new program in Montreal, the organization will continue to support the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Victoria, High Performance Centre – Vancouver and High Performance Centre – Ontario. The centres will operate under a refreshed set of operational standards and accountabilities with a view to establishing a fourth full High Performance Centre in Montreal at a later date.
“We are committed to working with athletes and partners in the region to continue developing opportunities for high-performance swimming,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi.
Beyond the Olympic program component of this plan, Swimming Canada will also be investigating the possible integration of the Paralympic program into this strategy to best support Para athletes alongside this program. Avenues being explored include the feasibility of a Paralympic Swimming Centre.